79-year-old man first to get Covid-19 vaccine in Denmark

A 79-year-old man on Sunday morning became the first person in Denmark to receive the new Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

79-year-old man first to get Covid-19 vaccine in Denmark
Leif Heiselberg, 79, talks to reporters after receiving the first vaccine dose. Photo: Tim Kildeborg Jensen/Ritzau Scanpix
Leif Heiselberg joked with a doctor as he received his first dose at Ældrecenter Øst, an elderly care home in Odense on the island of Funen. 
The vaccine better work, he warned, “otherwise, I'll come and haunt you.” 
He said he was looking forward to being able to cuddle his grandchildren again. 
“It's a joy to me that I'll soon be finished with all this, that I will maybe be able to give my grandchildren a hug again,” he told Danish state broadcaster DR.  
Thomas Senderovitz, director of the Danish medicines agency, called the first vaccination “a gigantic achievement”. “It's the moon landing of our time,” he said. 
Denmark received 9,750 doses of the vaccine on Saturday, with the doses them sent out to elderly care homes in each of the country's five regions. 
Those who receive injections this week will require a second injection in two weeks. 
The first in the queue are people in risk groups — the elderly and chronically sick — as well as people who work in elderly care homes and other people who have contact with those in risk groups. 
Denmark's prime minister Mette Frederiksen watched via a virtual connection as Jytte Margrethe Frederiksen, who lives in an elderly care home in Ishøj, outside Copenhagen, got vaccinated. 
Photo: Keld Navntoft/Ritzau Scanpix
EU commission chief Ursula von der Leyen hailed the start of the European Union's vaccination campaign as a “touching moment of unity and a European success story”.
Countries are showing different strategies in their vaccination targeting, with Italy focusing on health workers, France the elderly and in the Czech Republic the prime minister himself at the front of the queue.
In a sign of impatience, some EU countries began vaccinating on Saturday, a day before the official start, with a 101-year-old woman in a care home becoming the first person in Germany to be inoculated and Hungary and Slovakia also handing out their first shots.

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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.”