Denmark has been at the peak of infection in Europe in the past 14 days, with 3,647 infections per 100,000 inhabitants.
Before the winter, the Danes had the same Corona strategy as Norway, with the main aim of reducing the epidemic to avoid overcrowding in the health services.
Now one of the country’s infection control experts says Denmark will use Omicron to get out of the pandemic.
Lone Simonsen is a professor at Roskilde University, and heads up the PandemiX Center.
In Denmark, it became known as the “only epidemic”. Now she tells TV 2 that the Danes just want to control the pace of infection in the future.
– We now know that everyone will likely be infected in the next few months, so we are trying to modify the infection so that it does not overwhelm hospitals, she says.
She notes that oomicron infections in countries such as Canada, England and South Africa are spreading rapidly, at the same time that the risk of hospitalization is much lower than in the delta variant.
Vaccines still have an effect against serious illness, hospitalization, and death. So we’re just trying to control the rate of spread, Simonsen says.
The head of the Danish Statins Serum Institute, Tyra Grove Krause, said in early January that she expects January will be tough, but Denmark will be done with the pandemic in two months.
Director, also for the rest of the world
Simonsen says that’s because they believe a combination of omicron infection and a vaccine will make the population better equipped to handle the virus, even if new mutations emerge.
– I predict that if you are vaccinated and have an omicron, you will become hyperimmune. This will provide strong, long-term protection against new viral variants in the future, she says.
Simonsen now believes Denmark is leading the way and proposing a way out, also for the rest of the world. If the Danes are right, we will get everyday life back for good already in the spring.
– It is new to allow the infection to spread among the population. We think this was over during the spring, and that this was the last Christmas affected by the pandemic. In the future, we will live with winter epidemics of the virus that will be controlled in the same way we treat seasonal flu, Simonsen says.
It will block super distributed events
Simonsen says Denmark wants to avoid crowds in close contact that could lead to super dispenser accidents.
– We suppose that it happens late, and it is reasonable to think that people will be more drunk later in the evening. We also know that you are more likely to forget to take care of yourself and stay close to others when you are drunk.
Therefore, Denmark will continue to use face masks indoors where there are many people, and will impose restrictions on the number of people who can stay together.
We don’t know much about how each individual measure affects, but the measures work together, Simonsen says.
The questionable strategy
The main focus in Norway remains on preventing health services overload.
Espen Nakstad, assistant director of health, says Norwegian health authorities are not convinced that oomicron infection can provide lasting protection.
– Omicron reduces the risk of serious illness, and the vaccine in addition to post-injury immunity provides “superior protection”. Why don’t you think it’s a better strategy to let as many people as possible get infected now?
– It is not certain that the disease reviewed provides more permanent protection than vaccination, although you may obtain broader immunity. Nakstad says that considering the health service shouldn’t be overburdened is important anyway, and it is affected by the number of people infected at the same time.
I am not sure of the consequences
FHI’s chief medical officer, Preben Aavitsland, says the only thing stopping Norway from allowing the epidemic to spread freely in the community is taking into account hospitals.
– What prevents us from giving up on the epidemic completely is that a huge wave and therefore also some seriously ill people can create an unsustainable situation for hospitals. That’s why we’re working to reduce the peak of the infection wave, says Aavitsland.
He notes that it remains uncertain whether an omicron will result in many people requiring hospitalization. If not, it could mean changes.
– If it turns out that such a peak will not lead to an unsustainable situation for hospitals, there is less reason to reduce that peak with measures, says Aavitsland.
Planning a new long-term strategy
TV 2 asked the government if they were considering changing the strategy as the Danes did, so that as many people as possible become infected and become hyper-immune.
Engfeld Kerkul (Labour) does not specifically answer the question, but says the Norwegian strategy still retains as much control as possible.
Our strategy is to maintain control of the epidemic so that it does not lead to a large disease burden and overburden capacities in municipal health services and in hospitals. At the same time, we are working to secure the structures of society and the economy, says Kjerkol in an email.
In addition, she says the government is working on a long-term plan for the epidemic in Norway.
– We revised the current strategy at the end of November last year. At the same time, we have started preparations to work through a long-term strategy for how to live with COVID-19 in the community. We have to get back on schedule for that, says the health minister.
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