Danish PM hints at change to Covid-19 vaccination programme

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has suggested that Denmark may soon make changes to its vaccination programme.

Danish PM hints at change to Covid-19 vaccination programme
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in Helsingør. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Frederiksen commented on the country’s current schedule for inoculation the country against the virus on Monday while visiting re-opened shops in coastal town Helsingør.

“The vaccination plan states, at one point, 65 years. On that, I can say today that 65 is set too high when we look at who is at risk of hospitalisation and more serious illness. We should be under 65 for this, probably at 50,” she said somewhat cryptically

“But (health) authorities are going to release more specific information,” she added.

The Danish Health Authority has divided the population into 12 priority groups for the vaccination programme. Age is one of the factors by which the groups are divided.


What is Denmark’s current schedule for Covid-19 vaccination?

When and how can foreign residents get the Covid-19 vaccine in Denmark?

Although Frederiksen did not elaborate on which groups she was referring to, the age group 65-74 years is currently ninth in the 12-group classification for receiving the coronavirus vaccine. People aged 16-64 with no underlying risk factors are in the final, twelfth group.

As such, those may be the groups the PM was talking about.

The government is currently discussing possible long-term reopening plans and Frederiksen is reported to have met with Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, leader of the Liberals, the largest opposition party, on Monday.

Ellemann-Jensen has called for Denmark to take gradual steps towards reopening every two weeks if that is supported by infection rates. He also wants a full reopening in May if everyone over the age of 50 has been vaccinated by then, as well as people in risk groups.

“When we reach the point at which everyone over 50 has been vaccinated in Denmark, as has everyone who might be in a risk group because of another illness, we will hopefully be in a different situation to the one we are in now,” Frederiksen said.

“That depends on how (the infection situation with) mutations develops. But we would have a different starting point, and that’s where we’d work from,” she 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.”