Denmark to test thousands for Covid-19 antibodies

Around 18,000 randomly-selected people in Denmark are to be invited to take a test for coronavirus antibodies.

Denmark to test thousands for Covid-19 antibodies
Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The testing is to be conducted by the State Serum Institute (SSI), the country’s infectious disease institute.

The testing is part of an effort to ascertain how many people in the country have been infected with the virus.

Latest figures from SSI show that 1,301,236 individuals in Denmark have been tested for Covid-19 since the epidemic reached Denmark. That is well over one-fifth of the population.

However, it is possible that people have had the virus without being tested, particularly at the beginning of the outbreak when testing was less widely available. Additionally, a negative result at the time of testing does not rule out having at the virus at a different time.

“The State Serum Institute and the (administrative) regions will now… invite a randomly selected group of residents to take a blood test to measure whether they have antibodies in their blood against the Covid-19 virus,” SSI said in a statement.

Covid-19 virus testing will be offered concurrently with antibody testing, to take a measure of the current levels of infection in society.

Denmark’s reopening programme, passed by parliament in the spring, includes provisions for regular spot checks of how many people in society are infected with the virus.


A similar testing programme in May suggested that 1.2 percent of the country’s population had been infected with coronavirus.

That May testing only took place in selected municipalities, however. This time the programme will encompass the entire country.

Selected Denmark residents will be contacted during the next three weeks. The first tests will take place next week.

“We hope that many will accept this offer and be tested so that we can get a better idea of how much of the population has actually be affected by the epidemic so far,” SSI senior researcher Steen Ethelberg said.

“By combining antibody testing with the test for current infection, we hope to make participation more attractive,” Ethelberg added.

READ ALSO: Norway likely to advise against travel to Danish regions after Covid-19 outbreak

Member comments

  1. “A similar testing programme in May suggested that 1.2 percent of the country’s population had been infected with coronavirus.”

    Interesting. Back in May, I read that the antibody testing program had been abandoned because 40% of those “randomly-selected people” invited to participate had failed to take part. Glad to hear that they actually analyzed what data they did get.

    But I know more than one individual who suspects that they would test positive for antibodies, yet that earlier study — and it sounds like this new one, too — refused to accept volunteers. So it seems as if the SSI is more interested in developing statistics (via “randomly” selected) than in actually helping people to determine whether they might be immune.


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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.”