Wednesday, January 19

Now everyone in Denmark will be infected: – We think the pandemic is over by spring

Denmark has been at the peak of infection in Europe in the last 14 days, with 3647 infected per 100,000 inhabitants.

Before the winter, the Danes had the same corona strategy as Norway, with the main goal of curbing the pandemic to avoid congestion in the health service.

Now one of the country’s foremost infection control experts says that Denmark will use omikron to get out of the pandemic.

New strategy

Lone Simonsen is a professor at Roskilde University, and heads the research center PandemiX Center.

In Denmark, she has become known as “pandemic-lone”. Now she tells TV 2 that the Danes only want to control the pace of the spread of infection in the future.

– We now know that everyone will probably be infected in the next few months, so we try to adjust the infection so that it does not overwhelm the hospitals, she says.

She points out that the omicron infection in countries such as Canada, England and South Africa is spreading rapidly, at the same time as the risk of hospitalization is significantly less than for the delta variant.

– The vaccines still have an effect against serious illness, hospitalizations and death. So therefore we only try to control the spread rate, says Simonsen.

The head of the Danish Statens Serum Institutt, Tyra Grove Krause, said in early January that she expects January to be tough, but that Denmark will be finished with the pandemic in two months.

INFECTION: There were long queues to get tested quickly in Aalborg in Denmark before Christmas. In the future, far more people will be infected. Photo: Henning Bagger / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP / Denmark out

A way out, also for the rest of the world

The reason for this, says Simonsen, is that they believe a mixture of infection with omicron and vaccine will make the population better equipped to deal with the virus, even if new mutants should appear.

Professor Lone Simonsen believes that the way out of the pandemic is to infect as many people as possible.  Photo: Roskilde University

Professor Lone Simonsen believes that the way out of the pandemic is to infect as many people as possible. Photo: Roskilde University

– I expect that if you are both vaccinated and infected with omicron, then you will develop hyperimmunity. This will provide robust and long-lasting protection against new virus variants in the future, she says.

Now Simonsen 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 take back everyday life for good already in the spring.

– It is new to just let the infection spread in the population. We believe this is over during the spring, and that this was the last Christmas that was affected by the pandemic. In the future, we will live with winter epidemics of the virus that will be controlled in the same way as we handle seasonal flu, says Simonsen.

CHRISTMAS: Professor Lone Simonsen believes we have celebrated the last Christmas, which is hampered by coronary restrictions.  Photo: Henning Bagger / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP

CHRISTMAS: Professor Lone Simonsen believes we have celebrated the last Christmas, which is hampered by coronary restrictions. Photo: Henning Bagger / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP

Will prevent super-spreader events

Simonsen says that Denmark wants to avoid crowds in close contact that could lead to super-spreader incidents.

– We assume this happens late, and it is logical 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 have restrictions on how many can stay together.

– We do not know much about how much effect each individual measure has, but the measures work together, Simonsen says.

Doubtful to the strategy

The main focus in Norway is still to prevent an overload of the health service.

Assistant director of health Espen Nakstad says that the Norwegian health authorities are not convinced that omicron infection can provide more lasting protection.

– Omikron reduces the risk of serious illness, and the vaccine, together with immunity after being infected, provides “super protection”. Why do you not think that it is a better strategy to let as many people as possible be infected now?

– It is not certain that reviewed illness now provides more lasting protection than vaccination, even though you may get a broader immunity. The consideration that the health service should not be overloaded is important in any case, and it is affected by how many people are infected at the same time, says Nakstad.

CLOSED: From mid-December, a liquor ban was introduced throughout Norway.  A number of bars and restaurants in Trondheim will be closed as a result of the measure.  Photo: Stein Roar Leite / TV 2

CLOSED: From mid-December, a liquor ban was introduced throughout Norway. A number of bars and restaurants in Trondheim will be closed as a result of the measure. Photo: Stein Roar Leite / TV 2

Am unsure of the consequences

Chief physician at FHI, Preben Aavitsland, says that the only thing that prevents Norway from allowing the pandemic to spread freely in society is the consideration for the hospitals.

– What keeps us from letting go of the epidemic completely is that a huge wave and thus also some seriously ill people can create an unsustainable situation for the hospitals. That is why we are working to curb the peak of the infection wave, says Aavitsland.

He points out that it is still uncertain whether omikron will lead to many people needing to be hospitalized. If it does not turn out to be the case, it could mean changes.

– If it turns out that such a peak will not lead to an unsustainable situation for the hospitals, there is less reason to curb this peak through measures, says Aavitsland.

CONTROL: Minister of Health Ingvild Kjerkol (Labor Party) believes it is still appropriate to maintain control over the spread of infection.  Photo: Goran Jorganovich / TV 2

CONTROL: Minister of Health Ingvild Kjerkol (Labor Party) believes it is still appropriate to maintain control over the spread of infection. Photo: Goran Jorganovich / TV 2

Planning a new long-term strategy

TV 2 has asked the government if they are considering changing the strategy as the Danes have done, so that as many people as possible will be infected and achieve hyperimmunity.

Ingvild Kjerkol (Labor Party) does not answer the question specifically, but says that the Norwegian strategy is still to retain as much control as possible.

– Our strategy is to maintain control of the pandemic so that it does not lead to a significant disease burden and increased pressure on capacity in the municipal health service and in the hospitals. At the same time, we work to secure society’s structures and the economy, says Kjerkol in an e-mail.

In addition, she says that the government is working on a more long-term plan for the epidemic in Norway.

– We adjusted the existing strategy at the end of November last year. At the same time, we have started the preparations for the work with a long-term strategy for how we will live with covid-19 in society. We must return to the timetable for this, says the Minister of Health.

Reference-www.tv2.no

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