Covid-19 vaccines to thank for significantly fewer Danish infections and deaths, agency finds

Last week saw no deaths related to Covid-19 at care homes in Denmark, the first time that has been the case since September 2020.

Covid-19 vaccines to thank for significantly fewer Danish infections and deaths, agency finds
Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

That is because the vast majority of residents at the care homes have now been vaccinated against the coronavirus, the Danish national infectious disease agency State Serum Institute (SSI) has confirmed according to news wire Ritzau.

The first week of 2021 saw 81 deaths at care homes, a figure which reached zero by the ninth week of the year. Not since September has Denmark gone through a week without losing any elderly care home residents to the virus.

Care homes are also seeing a steep drop in the number of recorded cases of Covid-19.

Just a single case was registered last week, according to SSI. That compares to 464 in the first week of this year.

According to an SSI notification acquired by Ritzau, the infectious disease agency expects Denmark to reduce the number of coronavirus deaths by 81 percent once all people over 50 have been offered the vaccine. That stage is expected to be reached by June according to the current vaccination schedule.

An expert has previously said that the drop in cases and deaths in Denmark can only be attributed to vaccinations.

“When the fall-off is so extreme it is entirely clear that it is the vaccines that are making their mark now,” University of Copenhagen professor of immunology Jan Pravsgaard Christensen told broadcaster TV2.

Denmark began its Covid-19 vaccination programme on December 27th and currently expects to complete vaccinating its population by the end of July.

READ ALSO: Denmark to consider lifting coronavirus restrictions at care homes

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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.”