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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Recent Covid-19 booster jab offers good protection: Danish agency

The number of new registered cases of Covid-19 in Denmark is currently declining despite the cold weather providing more favourable conditions for the virus.

Recent Covid-19 booster jab offers good protection: Danish agency

A weekly trend report from the national infectious disease control agency, State Serum Institute (SSI) shows that 3,781 people returned positive PCR tests for the coronavirus last week, compared to 4,247 the preceding week.

It should be noted that Denmark does not generally advise Covid-19 tests for those not at risk of severe illness from the virus.

READ ALSO: What is Denmark’s Covid-19 testing strategy for the winter?

Going further back, the number has almost halved, with 9,015 positive PCR tests registered during the week beginning October 10th.

The number of people with Covid-19 newly admitted to hospitals has also fallen, from 275 two weeks ago to 245 last week.

SSI has begun to include vaccine effectiveness as a new parameter in its weekly trend report.

According to the agency, people who have recently received a booster against Covid-19 are better protected against the virus than those who have not received a booster.

“Our analyses of the effect of the booster show that persons who received the fourth dose [second booster, ed.] prior to September 15th are well protected against hospital admission as a result of Covid-19,” SSI senior medical consultant Bolette Søborg said in a statement on the agency’s website.

The latest booster provides “around 75 percent better” protection against hospital admission compared to people who have received three doses,” she said.

READ ALSO: Can you get a Covid-19 booster in Denmark if you are not in a risk group?