Denmark to mix leftovers from Covid-19 vaccine vials

Danish health authorities have given the green light to combining leftover drops from coronavirus vaccines vials in order to squeeze extra doses from supplies.

Denmark to mix leftovers from Covid-19 vaccine vials
File photo:Leonhard Foeger/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Health Authority confirmed its updated guidelines in a statement.

Up to 7 vaccine doses can be drawn from Pfizer vials, while those from Moderna contain a maximum of 12.

In some cases, it is not possible to draw the maximum number of doses. In such events, leftover vaccine can be combined with remainders from another vial, the health authority said.

No more than two vials may be combined and they must come from the same supplier and batch.

“We must continue at vaccination centres to strive to withdraw as many full doses of vaccine from each multi dose vial as possible,” Danish Health Authority department chief Bolette Søborg said in the statement.

“When it occasionally is not possible to withdraw all of the recommended full doses from the vials, the leftover can be combined with vaccine from one other vial to make a full dose,” she explained.

Experienced medical personnel at vaccine centres will be responsible for putting doses together.

The Danish Health Authority and Danish Medicines Agency were both previously opposed to mixing vials, according to an official note relating to the decision.

The health authority was concerned over the availability of qualified staff to mix the vaccines, which could lead to contamination or incorrect combination, for example using different batches.

But regional health authorities have reportedly developed procedures aimed at preventing this, while vaccine centres have also become more efficient with increased experience, according to the health authority.

READ ALSO: Denmark allows AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to be given by private suppliers

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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.”