Denmark scraps provision for enforced vaccination in new epidemic bill

A political majority has given its backing to a bill providing for a new epidemic law to replace the emergency law passed at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Denmark scraps provision for enforced vaccination in new epidemic bill
Health minister Magnus Heunicke. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

The bill, announced over the weekend, is significantly different from an earlier proposal which the government withdraw due to popular and political opposition over the far-reaching powers it could have given authorities.

The new version is backed by a broad majority of parties from both the right and left wing parliamentary blocs, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

One particularly criticised element of the original proposal, which would have allowed forced vaccination in order to contain and eliminate a dangerous disease in specified situations, is not in the new bill.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What is Denmark's proposed 'epidemic law' and why is it being criticised?

Restrictions of an “interventionist nature” will now require a parliamentary vote and cannot unilaterally be placed by the health minister, DR reports.

Meanwhile, the most controversial element of the previous proposal, which provided for vaccination to be forced through physical detainment if deemed necessary to contain and eliminate a dangerous disease, has been scrapped. All provisions for any application of force under any circumstances have been written out of the bill.

“We are simply writing all forms of forced vaccination out of the epidemic law because we believe that information and openness are better for the vaccination case than threats and force,” health minister Magnus Heunicke said.

According to the new bill, restrictions of an “interventionist nature” will require a parliamentary majority before they can be implemented. Proposed restrictions must be presented to a parliamentary committee.

The new ‘epidemic law' (epidemilov) will replace an emergency law passed in the spring which gave the government extended powers to intervene in society in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. That law expires on March 1st 2021.



Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


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.”