Denmark to send out half a million ‘unreliable’ Covid-19 antibody tests

As part of a broad-ranging study, 500,000 people in Denmark will receive in the near future a coronavirus antibody test kit.

Denmark to send out half a million 'unreliable' Covid-19 antibody tests
A Covid-19 antibody test. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

But the test, which involves taking blood with a finger prick, has been reported to be unreliable and not CE-certified for home use.

The issues with the tests were reported by Danish newspaper Politiken.

The CE mark denotes that the producer or importer of a product complies with EU standards.

The tests are reported to have been purchased by Region Hovedstaden, the health authority for greater Copenhagen, in April. A total of 1.4 million antibody tests were purchased from a Chinese partner of Danish clothing company Bestseller for over 60 million kroner, according to the report.

But the tests, produced by Livzon, have since proved to be unreliable to such a degree that health authorities in India have decided to shelve them, according to Politiken.

Nevertheless, 500,000 of the tests are to be sent to people in Denmark as part of the ‘Vi tester Danmark’ (‘We’re testing Denmark) project.

READ ALSO: Denmark to test thousands for Covid-19 antibodies

Recipients will be able to use the tests without qualified personnel to check the results.

“We are using these tests because they are the ones we have available and because they can be conducted at peoples’ homes. For diagnostic use it is hugely important we have a completely correct result, but when we are doing a study of the general public like this, we can live with the test being a bit less precise,” senior doctor Robert Skov of the State Serum Institute (SSI) told Politiken.

SSI, the national infectious disease agency, is carrying out the study along with regional health authorities.

Skov added that SSI will make clear to participants that the result will only be an indication of whether they have formed antibodies.

But faulty results may give participants an incorrect impression that they may have developed immunity to coronavirus, according to Peder Hvelplund, health spokesperson with the Red Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) party.

“We are risking some people using the test and getting a false answer, and thereby risking that they will end up acting as if they actually have antibodies and therefore don’t need to worry about getting infected,” Hvelplund told Ritzau.


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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.”