Danish towns get green light to test wastewater for Covid-19

Denmark's parliament has voted to change its epidemic law to allow the authorities to monitor wastewater for coronavirus.

Danish towns get green light to test wastewater for Covid-19
A water treatment facility at Lynetten in Copenhagen. Photo: Biofos

From July 1st, Denmark’s infectious diseases agency SSI, and also municipalities around the country, will start monitoring wastewater as an efficient way of quickly identifying areas where infection levels are rising. 

In April, SSI said that an experiment where wastewater samples were taken and tested every day on the island of Bornholm had shown the method, which is used in the UK, Sweden, and elsewhere, was a useful tool for assessing the level of infection in an area. 

“A little over 200 samples have been taken from the seven different treatment plants and in 11 percent of them the analyses detected Covid-19 virus,”  Steen Ethelberg from SSI, said in a press release in April. 

“In the same period, 37 Bornholmers tested positive. There was a rough coincidence between when and where there was a virus in the wastewater, and when citizens tested positive.” 

Ole Bjørstorp, mayor of Ishøj last month credited the technique for helping bring down infections in the Copenhagen suburb. 

“When things were looking really bad, it was that that made the difference,” he said. 

Bjørstorp plans to make monitoring wastewater a permanent part of the municipality’s efforts to control the virus until after the summer. 

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Covid-19 medicine Paxlovid now available in Denmark

Denmark has received its first supply of Paxlovid, an antiviral treatment for Covid-19.

Covid-19 medicine Paxlovid now available in Denmark

A first stock of Paxlovid, a tablet which can be described by doctors to combat Covid-19 symptoms, has been delivered to Denmark, health authorities confirmed in a statement.

“The first delivery has arrived today and the rest will be delivered continuously during the coming period,” the Danish Health Authority said.

Denmark has purchased 40,000 treatment courses of the medicine.

Doctors decide when to prescribe the medicine, which is suitable for adults infected with Covid-19 who are at risk of serious illness with Covid-19. It is taken over a course of five days when symptoms are still mild.

“Treatment with Paxlovid is for the patients who are at greatest risk of serious illness with Covid-19 and the treatment will be an important part of the future management of Covid-19,” the Health Authority said in the statement.

The arrival of a medicine for Covid-19 does not signal the end of vaccination which remains “the most effective measure to prevent serious illness and death,” it said.

Denmark has purchased the Paxlovid supply through a deal with pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

The infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute (SSI) has 2.2 million Covid-19 vaccines which have been in storage for so long that they are no longer usable, news wire Ritzau earlier reported.

The vaccines were purchased when Denmark was acquiring as many as possible during the pandemic but because they are not effective against newer variants of the coronavirus, they can no longer be used.

Another 3.6 million doses in storage at SSI can only be used for the initial two doses for as-yet unvaccinated people – who are now limited in number given Denmark’s high vaccine uptake. This means they are unusable in the current booster programme.

The cost of the 5.8 million vaccines is estimated at between 116 and 783 million kroner.