Covid-19: Denmark holds on to hope of vaccinating population by summer

Despite delays and reductions in deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines, health authorities in Denmark still plan to complete the country’s vaccination programme by this summer.

Covid-19: Denmark holds on to hope of vaccinating population by summer
Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Health Authority expects all people in the country who wish to be inoculated against Covid-19 to be able to complete vaccination including the second dose by this summer.

The overall time scale for the Danish vaccine rollout has been extended by one week, however. Previously projected to be complete by June 27th, authorities now expect to have given the final second doses by July 4th.

Denmark will receive significantly fewer doses of the vaccine in March than was previously expected. The delays mean that some group subsets must wait longer to receive their second dose, around 190,000 people in total, news wire Ritzau writes.

The plan is still subject to uncertainty because it relies on projections for approval of forthcoming vaccines.

The next vaccine expected to be approved for use in the EU is produced by British-Swedish company AstraZeneca, while another, from Johnson & Johnson, could be approved within the next two months.

AstraZeneca is currently involved in a dispute with the EU after notifying that it would initially deliver fewer doses to the union than previously agreed, international media have reported.

“Smaller swings are taken into account in the prognoses, but it is important to stress that this is what they are: prognoses, and they therefore contain a degree of uncertainty,” the Danish Health Authority writes in a statement.

“This is particularly related to the size of forthcoming deliveries,” the authority adds.

Denmark has so far vaccinated elderly care home residents, elderly citizens who receive home living assistance, people in specific risk groups and health and social sector workers.

The next group who will receive first doses is people over the age of 85.

“Our absolute primary focus is to vaccinate our eldest and otherwise most vulnerable. And with the limited number of vaccines we currently have, there is no room to commence vaccination of other groups,” Danish Health Authority director Søren Brostrøm said in the statement.

Vaccination of people under the age of 65 who are not in any specific risk group will not begin until April, according to the current plan.



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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.”