Denmark’s Covid-19 vaccination programme feels effects of reduced supply

This week will see Denmark receive 73,710 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from supplier Pfizer/BioNTech and 6,000 from Moderna.

Denmark’s Covid-19 vaccination programme feels effects of reduced supply
Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The numbers were confirmed by the Danish Health Authority via its website.

All doses from Pfizer/BioNTech will be used on giving second doses to people who have already received one dose of the vaccine, so a low number of people will begin vaccination.

That comes after a recent announcement by the company that it would be delivering fewer doses than previously expected during coming weeks.

READ ALSO: Reduction in Pfizer vaccines to Denmark will impact first quarter of 2021

As such, people resident at care homes and people over the of 65 who receive living assistance at home will receive the Pfizer vaccines, as will key staff in the healthcare and social care sectors.

The Moderna vaccines will be used in the North Jutland region next week. They will be offered to people over the age of 85.

Last week, Denmark received 35,000 dosed of the Pfizer vaccine, around half of this week’s supply.

As a result, the health authority adjusted its plan for the vaccine rollout. That meant a delay to vaccines being offered to health sector workers.

Overall, Denmark will now receive around 10 percent fewer doses from the company in the first quarter of 2021 than was previously expected.

The vaccines are supplied in vials which, initially, were approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to contain five doses of the vaccine. But clinicians in Denmark were able to draw six doses from the vials. That was taken into account in the country’s vaccine plan.

But the EMA has now updated its specifications to state that the vials contain six doses.

Because the contract between Pfizer/BioNTech and the EU Commission is based on doses, the company is maintaining it will still be supplying the agreed number of doses despite the reduced number of vials.

Though Danish authorities disagree with this understanding, it has resulted in the necessary revision of the country’s vaccine plan.

Danish Health Authority director Søren Brostrøm said the vaccination programme was moving forward well, despite the changes brought about last week.

“We are maintaining our set prioritisation order and we have already vaccinated many in the highest target groups and are well underway with dose two for the elderly and people at care homes as well as health workers,” he said in a statement.

“Last week we postponed a number of vaccinations, but to ensure the groups that have received the first dose get the second dose, we must prioritise the doses we receive for them,” he added.

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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.”