Denmark scraps plan for national production of Covid-19 vaccines

The Danish government no longer plans offer contracts for national production of existing Covid-19 vaccines.

Denmark scraps plan for national production of Covid-19 vaccines
File photo: Tim Kildeborg Jensen/Ritzau Scanpix

The Ministry of Industry, Business and Industrial Affairs (Erhvervsministeriet) confirmed the decision in an email to medical and biotech industry media MedWatch.

Announcement of the move follows a recent decision to provide funding to Danish firm Bavarian Nordic, which is working on a potential new, Danish-developed Covid-19 vaccine. The Bavarian Nordic vaccine is currently at the trial stage.

“The overall assessment is that the best way to support future vaccine production in Denmark is to support the production of Bavarian Nordic’s candidate vaccine,” the ministry wrote to MedWatch.

“On this basis, there are no current plans to award a contract [for national production of existing vaccines, ed.],” it stated.

The national infectious disease agency State Serum Institute conducted earlier this year research to establish which companies could have interest in and means to fulfil such a contract.

Those companies included Danish firms Bavarian Nordic, AGC Biologics and AJ Vaccines along with foreign companies Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Sanofi.

Denmark’s government has previously stated its desire to ensure a domestic supply line for Covid-19 vaccines.

“Vaccines are a crucial weapon in controlling epidemics,” health minister Magnus Heunicke earlier said in a statement.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that we need to be in a stronger position on this area and it is therefore important that we look into the options for Danish vaccine production,” he continued.

“We must be sure that we are equipped and ready to quickly revaccinate the population so we can prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the future,” the minister said.

The government has, as such, decided to throw its weight behind the Bavarian Nordic project to achieve this aim.

Its agreement with the company provides funding of 800 million kroner in investment to the company, with the state to be supplied with Covid-19 vaccines in return.

The investment is contingent on successful development of the Bavarian Nordic vaccine.

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Covid-19: Danish research finds improved protection from updated vaccine

Denmark’s infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute (SSI) says that a second booster or “fourth dose” with an updated form of the Covid-19 vaccine will significantly improve protection against the virus.

Covid-19: Danish research finds improved protection from updated vaccine

The fourth dose will offer markedly better protection than if a person has only received a “third” dose or single booster jab, SSI said in a press statement.

SSI researchers, working with colleagues from the other Nordic countries, have analysed the effect of the additional booster jab with the vaccine, which has been updated in line with newer dominant subvariants of the coronavirus.

When the Danish population was first vaccinated against Covid-19, the vaccines were designed to offer protection against the original form of the virus, SSI writes.

But newer variants have made the original vaccines less effective. The updated vaccines are designed to have the best possible effect against both the original variant as well as the Omicron variant.

There are currently two versions of the updated vaccine. One is adapted towards the BA.1 Omicron subvariant, with another adapted to the BA.4-5 subvariant.

In the Nordic countries, the updated vaccines were offered during autumn 2022 to all persons over the age of 50 in Denmark and Sweden, over 60 in Finland and over 65 in Norway.

A fourth dose with the BA.1-updated version reduced the risk of hospitalisation with Covid-19 by 74 percent and the risk of death by 80 percent compared to the third dose, SSI found.

The BA.4-5 updated version reduced the risk of hospitalisation by 81 percent and the risk of death by 78 percent.

The latter of the two updated versions (BA.4-5) was found to reduce the risk of hospitalisation with Covid-19 by 32 percent compared to the BA-1 version.

“This is maybe not so surprising because BA.4-5 subvariants were dominant in autumn 2022,” SSI head of department Anders Hviid said in the statement.

“But I think we are among the first [countries] to be able to measure this based on the large quantities of data we have available from working across four countries,” he said.

The research was supported by the EU’s European Medicines Agency (EMA).

SSI notes that the frequency of hospitalisation and particularly death due to Covid-19 was very low after both the third and fourth doses of the vaccine.

The academic paper resulting from the study can be read in English here.

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