Coronavirus: Denmark hopes to begin vaccine programme on December 27th

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen hopes that the country can begin vaccinating vulnerable people and front-line health sector workers shortly after Christmas.

Coronavirus: Denmark hopes to begin vaccine programme on December 27th
Covid-19 vaccines in Boston, USA. Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The PM expressed her hope over a forthcoming vaccine to a number of Danish media on Thursday as promising signs emerge that the EU will approve the first vaccine for public use by Christmas.

Frederiksen said she could not yet give a definite date for the start of vaccinations in Denmark.

“Things are moving extremely fast. We hope for an approval within just a few days and if everything goes well, we’ll be underway with vaccination shortly after that,” she said according to DR and TV2.

The first vaccines are already en route to Denmark in anticipation of approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), news wire Ritzau writes.

Elderly care home residents and elderly people in risk groups will be prioritised first for the vaccine, along with front-line health service staff.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, confirmed on Thursday that vaccination in the entire EU can begin on December 27th provided the approval is in place.

Denmark could even begin vaccinating against Covid-19 before that date if doses are ready in the country, Frederiksen said.

“Although I’m a strong supporter of coordination at the European level, the vaccine will be delivered and distributed the moment it arrives on Danish soil,” she said.

The PM was unable to give a figure for the number of doses Denmark can expect initially.

“That is one of the things that is always changing. We shouldn’t expect many doses in the first round, but doses will hopefully arrive at relatively short intervals,” she said.

The Danish Health Authority is scheduled to send an information letter regarding the vaccine to residents by the new year, via the secure e-boks digital mail service.

The vaccine news comes as Denmark again reported a record number of new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday. 4,034 cases were detected from 124,707 tests.

The number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients increased on Thursday by 23 to 516. That is just short of the peak hospitalisation total from the spring wave of the virus, which stood at 535 on April 1st.

The government announced a full national lockdown on Wednesday in response to the escalating spread of Covid-19 in capital Copenhagen and across the country.

READ ALSO: Denmark presents Covid-19 vaccination plan: first vaccines could be offered in December

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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.”