Danish health minister says further Covid-19 vaccinations could ward off restrictions

Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on Friday that the government is prepared to take steps to prevent new restrictions should Denmark see a resurgence in Covid-19 cases later this year.

Health minister Magnus Heunicke
Health minister Magnus Heunicke said that a Covid-19 vaccination programme could be reintroduced in Denmark later this year should case numbers resurge. File photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Authorities are currently making various plans for managing a Covid resurgence later in the year, Heunicke said on Friday at a parliamentary committee.

“We don’t know what it will be. It could be something like Omicron, a subvariant or a completely new variant,” he said.

“So we must have different scenarios for what exactly we will be dealing with,” he said.

Vaccines will be considered an important tool which authorities will use to help prevent new restrictions, the minister said.

In all scenarios, elderly segments of the population would receive a booster vaccination first, he said.

Denmark currently has no Covid-19 restrictions in place, having lifted most social and travel restrictions during the early part of the spring.

Authorities have also reduced the current risk assessment level for Covid-19 to the lowest possible level for the first time since the pandemic began. That means the level of alert for hospitals and other parts of the health service is reduced.

Nevertheless, infections with the virus are still recorded by the national infectious disease control agency, State Serum Institute (SSI) on a daily basis.

“So even though we now know a lot more about this disease than we knew two and a half years ago, there are also things we don’t know because it keeps attacking us with new variants,” Heunicke said.

Although infection numbers are expected to increase again after the summer, the minister said booster vaccinations in the form of third or fourth doses of a Covid-19 vaccine would not be offered to the public at the current time.

Denmark announced the suspension of its national Covid-19 vaccination programme in April.

“We must be sure that it’s the right time (to respond),” Heunicke said.

Plans for national responses to various scenarios are expected to be completed before parliament takes its summer vacation. Political parties will then be involved in finalisation of the plans.

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Covid-19: Denmark decides against additional booster this winter

No additional booster vaccination against Covid-19 will be offered this winter, the Danish Health Authority confirmed on Wednesday.

Covid-19: Denmark decides against additional booster this winter

Together with an expert advisory group, the Health Authority has considered whether to offer vulnerable groups an extra booster vaccination against Covid-19 this winter.

People at higher risk of serious illness with the virus including those over the age of 85 will not be offered a further booster this winter, the authority has decided.

Denmark offered a booster in autumn 2022 to all people over the age of 50 and younger people considered vulnerable to the coronavirus.

The booster was backed up by data suggesting it improves protection against hospitalisation with Covid-19 by 74 percent, according to the Danish Health Authority.

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

Infection numbers in Denmark are currently low.

“We have the highest vaccine uptake in Europe and the vaccines have proved to be effective, including for the elderly and most vulnerable. We are in a good place in the Covid-19 epidemic. We can only be pleased about this,” head of section and consultant physician Kirstine Moll Harboe said in the statement.

The health authority nevertheless expects immunity and effectiveness of vaccines to fall over time and will therefore develop a plan for a new booster vaccination campaign to take place in the autumn.