Denmark has lowest deaths in population for six years despite coronavirus

An unusually mild influenza season and relatively limited impact of the Covid-19 pandemic mean that Denmark has registered the lowest number of deaths in its population for six years.

Denmark has lowest deaths in population for six years despite coronavirus
Photo: Ólafur Steinar Rye Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

Measures taken to reduce coronavirus infection including social distancing, hand hygiene and other restrictions have been credited in for limiting the number of deaths due to the virus. A total of 671 people have died with Covid-19 in Denmark as of October 12th.

The country’s low death figures were initially reported by newspaper Politiken.

Denmark’s national disease institute SSI has during the pandemic compared weekly death figures with numbers from the last five years.

The analyses have shown that the first 30 weeks of 2020 saw the lowest number of deaths of any year since 2015. Additionally, the figure is under the death rate which had been forecast for 2020.

One expert suggested in comments to Politiken that the government’s strategy for responding to the virus had been too cautious.

“(Is the aim) to delay the (impact of) the virus until there’s a vaccine? That can be reconciled with accepting a slightly higher infection rate and fewer restrictions. On the other hand, there should be extremely high focus on contact tracing with a lot of resources devoted to it,” Joachim Hoffmann-Petersen, a senior doctor and chair of the Danish Society for Anaesthetics and Intensive Medicine,” said.

Another commenter said Denmark’s Covid-19 fatality numbers could give a misleading impression.

“When we have so few deaths, that is because we were quick to get the epidemic under control and in a vice-grip at the start of March,” Lone Simonsen, professor of epidemiology at Roskilde University, told Politiken.

“We are in the waiting position until a vaccine or another game changer arrives. But if we’d let the epidemic rip, we’d have seen a lot more deaths,” she said.

Other European countries including Spain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom have registered in increase in their normal death rates this year, in contrast to the trend observed in Denmark.

READ ALSO: One fifth of people in Denmark sceptical of Covid vaccine

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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.”