Danish scientists announce ‘promising’ Covid-19 vaccine tests

Denmark’s national infectious disease research institute SSI says it has achieved “promising” results after testing a potential Covid-19 vaccine on mice.

Danish scientists announce 'promising' Covid-19 vaccine tests
A file photo showing blood samples taken to test for Covid-19 antibodies. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The vaccine candidate, CoVaxix, was successfully tested on mice and work on its development will now proceed to a second phase of trials on monkeys, SSI said in a statement on Monday afternoon.

Human trials could take place before the end of 2020, according to the research institute.

Researchers led by lead virologist, Professor Anders Fomsgaard, found that the potential vaccine produced antibodies which neutralised SARS-CoV-2 – commonly known as the new coronavirus – with the same or a greater strength when compared to people who have developed immunity following recovery from infection with the virus.

“Furthermore, the vaccine produces cell immunity, which protects against disease by eliminating virus-infected cells. That is very desirable for vaccines, but something far from all vaccines are capable of,” Fomsgaard said in the statement.

“Both neutralising antibodies and cell immunity are important for the body’s ability to block and protect against future Covid-19 infection. And cell immunity vital for the body’s ability to slow virus production and virus secretion, so you can limit both the Covid-19 disease and the infection of others,” he added.

Testing the vaccine on humans is subject to stringent safety criteria and therefore takes time, but researchers are working to expedite the process where possible, SSI said.

“In order to save time we now want to initiate trials on monkeys to test whether or not the monkeys become protected against subsequent Covid-19 infection. In parallel, enough CoVaxix will be produced for both initial human testing in phase 1, which is expected to begin at the end of autumn 2020 or at the start of 2021; and for the continued testing in phase 2,” Fomsgaard said.


CoVaxix is a spike-based DNA variant of non-living vaccine, SSI writes. It prepares an individual’s immune system to fight the virus by subjecting it to a small part of the surface of the virus without the rest of the virus attached.

The World Health Organization lists on its website potential vaccines currently in development worldwide.

The list, which was last updated on July 7th, shows 21 trials with planned phase 1 research. A number of others are working towards that phase.

SSI’s work is therefore one of many efforts worldwide to develop a vaccine. Its success so far is cause for optimism, according to a global health expert at the University of Copenhagen.

“This is certainly positive. Denmark is very much able to contribute in the development of a vaccine and has a long history of vaccine production,” Flemming Konradsen, a professor of global health at the university, told national broadcaster DR.

“The more horses there are to back, the better. We know that far from all vaccine candidates will make it. It’s necessary to develop and test a lot of them before you get a sufficiently effective vaccine without side effects,” Konradsen said.

READ ALSO: Are more people in Denmark going to wear face masks?

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IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?

The number of new Covid-19 infections fell on Saturday for the second day in a row, following a three-day plateau at the start of last week. Has the omicron wave peaked?

IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?
Graffiti in the Copenhagen hippy enclave of Christiania complaining of Omicron's impact on Christmas. Photo: Philip Davali/Scanpix

How many cases, hospitalisations and deaths are there in Denmark? 

Denmark registered 12,588 new cases in the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, down from the 18,261 registered on in the day leading up to Friday at 2pm, which was itself a decline from the record 28,283 cases recorded on Wednesday. 

The cases were identified by a total of 174,517 PCR tests, bringing the positive percentage to 7.21 percent, down from the sky high rates of close to 12 percent seen in the first few days of January. 

The number of cases over the past seven days is lower than the week before in almost every municipality in Denmark, with only Vallensbæk, Aarhus, Holseterbro, Skanderborg, Hjørring, Vordingborg,  Ringkøbing, Kolding, Assens, Horsens, Thisted, and Langeland reporting rises. 

Hospitalisations have also started to fall, with some 730 patients being treated for Covid-10 on Saturday, down from 755 on Friday. On Tuesday, 794 were being treated for Covid-19 in Danish hospitals, the highest number since the peak of the 2020-21 winter wave.

The only marker which has not yet started to fall is the number of deaths, which tends to trail infections and hospitalisations. 

In the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, Denmark registered 28 deaths with Covid-19, the highest daily number recorded since 20 January 2021, when 29 people died with Covid-19 (although Denmark’s deadliest day was the 19 January 2021, when 39 people died). 

How does Denmark compare to other countries in Europe? 

Over the last seven days, Denmark has had the highest Covid-19 case rate of any country in Europe bar Ireland. The number of new infections in the country has climbed steadily since the start of December, apart from a brief fall over Christmas. 

So does this mean the omicron wave has peaked? 

Maybe, although experts are not sure. 

“Of course, you can hope for that, but I’m not sure that is the case,” said Christian Wejse, head of the Department for Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital. “I think it is too early to conclude that the epidemic has peaked.”

He said that patients with the Omicron variant were being discharged more rapidly on average than had been the case with those who had the more dangerous Delta variant. 

“Many admissions are relatively short-lived, thankfully. This is because many do not become that il, and are largely hospitalized because they are suffering with something else. And if they are stable and do not need oxygen, then they are quickly discharged again.” 

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a visit to an event held by the Social Liberal party that the latest numbers made her even more optimistic about the coming month. 

“We have lower infection numbers and the number of hospitalisations is also plateauing,” she said. “I think we’re going to get through this winter pretty well, even if it will be a difficult time for a lot of people, and we are beginning to see the spring ahead of us, so I’m actually very optimistic.” 

She said that she had been encouraged by the fact that Omicron was a “visibly less dangerous variant if it is not allowed to explode.”