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VACCINE

Denmark extends Covid-19 vaccination programme by a further four weeks

The date by which Denmark hopes to have completed its Covid-19 vaccination programme has been put back by a further four weeks.

Denmark extends Covid-19 vaccination programme by a further four weeks
Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

The change in schedule can be seen on the updated version of the Danish Health Authority’s Covid-19 vaccination calendar, published on Thursday.

In a press statement, the health authority said that the new calendar is a direct consequence of the decision to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Denmark.

The date by Denmark expects to have vaccinated all adults, including second doses, is now August 15th. The country earlier expected to complete vaccines by June 27th, then extended this date to July 18th.

The new completion date “illustrates a worst-case scenario”, the Danish Health Authority said in the statement.

“(The calendar) shows that everyone in Denmark aged 16 or over can be offered the vaccine no later than (the second week of July) and everyone can be fully vaccinated four weeks later,” the authority wrote.

“But it is important to stress that the vaccination plan will look better if we, on re-evaluation in (two weeks’ time) resume the use of AstraZeneca,” it added.

Danish health authorities said Thursday they were temporarily suspending the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine as a precaution after some patients developed blood clots since receiving the jab, one of whom died.

The move comes “following reports of serious cases of blood clots among people vaccinated with AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine”, the Danish Health Authority said in a statement. 

But it cautiously added that “it has not been determined, at the time being, that there is a link between the vaccine and the blood clots”.

Meanwhile on Thursday, the Danish Health Authority also recommended a simplification of the country’s vaccine strategy, according to Ritzau.

Under the recommendation, the country would prioritise vaccinations more closely on age than is the current practice, though people in vulnerable groups would remain highly prioritised as is the case currently.

READ ALSO: Denmark suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine

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COVID-19

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.” 

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