Denmark reaches Covid-19 vaccination milestone as 4 million receive jab

More than four million people in Denmark have begun vaccination against Covid-19, according to a latest update from the country’s health authorities.

Denmark reaches Covid-19 vaccination milestone as 4 million receive jab
A card reading 'Congratulations on your first Covid-19 vaccination' is handed out at a Danish vaccination centre. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The exact figure of 4,018,508 Denmark residents who have received at least the first dose of a vaccine against the coronavirus was released by the Ministry of Health on Thursday.

That corresponds to 68.67 percent of the country’s population, according to the ministry.

Denmark’s national vaccination programme uses only the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both of which require two doses. The Johnson & Johnson vaccines, for which a single dose is required, and the two-dose AstraZeneca vaccine are available via an opt-in scheme.

READ ALSO: Explained: How does Denmark’s voluntary system work for AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines?

Almost 2.8 million people in Denmark are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to the latest data from the national infectious disease agency State Serum Institute. That corresponds to just over 47 percent of the population.

An expert in Denmark estimated that at least 86 percent of the population must be vaccinated in order to achieve community (herd) immunity to Covid-19.

The figure is higher than earlier estimates in part because of the emergence of the more infectious Delta variant.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: Nine out of ten new Danish infections caused by Delta variant

That would require almost all adults and children over twelve years to be vaccinated, given that 13 percent of the population is younger than this.

“In Denmark the case is that school children won’t be vaccinated before the autumn, but a large proportion of adults will be. So we won’t achieve actual herd immunity to start with,” said Viggo Andreasen, professor in mathematical epidemiology at Roskilde University.

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t benefit hugely from the vaccinations. So the closer we get to that 86 percent, the better,” Andreasen 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.”