Monday, January 17

The FHI top is cautiously optimistic: – It is a good sign

In the last 24 hours, 5288 corona infections have been registered in Norway, which is a decrease of 872 from the previous 24 hours. If you look at the weekly average, however, there is a steep increase in infection.

In the last seven days, an average of 6,145 corona infections have been registered per day. The corresponding average seven days ago was 3,577.

– The infection numbers go up and down from day to day, but the big picture now is that the infection is going up. Before the weekend, we had a very high number of infected, which is partly due to a lot of testing after Christmas, and perhaps a lack of testing through Christmas, says director Frode Forland in FHI.

He also points out that Norway is in a period of steady decline in the number of inpatients.

– We believe this is mainly due to the measures that were implemented in mid-December. There is a decrease in the number of inpatients with delta infection, says Forland.

– The pressure has eased somewhat

On Saturday, 246 corona-infected patients were admitted to hospitals in Norway, which was a decrease of 79 from Monday. Forland says many of those who are now hospitalized have been there for a long time.

– Many of the oldest who are hospitalized have underlying diseases. Nevertheless, it is the case that over 50 percent of those admitted are of a younger category, and most of them are unvaccinated, says Forland.

He repeats the health authorities’ message that it is the unvaccinated who must be reached with an offer of a vaccine dose.

– Over time, there has been a lot of pressure on the hospitals, which in recent weeks has slowed down a bit. This is good, because we expect that we will now have a wave with increasing infection of omicron, says Forland.

Expect that there will be fewer inpatients

The subject director says that many of those who are hospitalized with corona now belong to a kind of tail of the delta epidemic.

– We have only seen a few and twenty inmates with omikron so far. At the same time, we have not had the omikron variant with us for more than a good month.

Forland says that the number of hospitalizations comes 3-4 weeks after a peak of infection, and that it is therefore too early to say anything about how omicron will affect the number of hospitalizations in Norway.

– But we follow these figures, and we will be able to have better answers in 1-2 weeks. We expect that we will have fewer inpatients with omicron, because studies from several countries indicate that this variant causes less serious illness.

– Good hope for a milder pandemic

According to Forland, several studies show tendencies that the omicron virus likes itself better in the upper respiratory tract and to a lesser extent goes down into the lungs. This may be one of the reasons why many are infected, while fewer become seriously ill.

– When it comes to the number of hospital admissions, we see that there are fewer in the UK, Denmark and Hong Kong. The hope is that we will also see these figures in Norway. We follow this from week to week, and will settle the figures as soon as we can to say something about the seriousness of this in Norway, says Forland.

Danish health experts have stated that they will be able to see the end of the pandemic within a few months. Forland does not share exactly the same view, but believes that Norway will have a wave through the winter that decreases throughout the spring.

– So we agree with that. We expect that we will get a fairly large pressure from the number of infected, and perhaps also hospitalized, during January and February. When we get more immunity and still have good vaccine coverage, there is good hope that we will have a much milder pandemic over the spring and summer, says Forland.

FOLLOWS THE SITUATION: Subject director Frode Forland in FHI. Photo: Simen Askjer / TV 2

– Goes against adjustments

The government introduced several measures to prevent the spread of infection in mid-December, and announced that the measures would apply until 14 January. Forland will not reveal what NIPH will advise the government to do next.

– But it is clear that many of the advice we gave before the measures were implemented on 15 December was characterized by great uncertainty about omikron. Now we know something more about both severity and infectivity, says Forland, and continues:

– The entire toolbox of advice we have had at the societal level is up for discussion, and the advice will probably be adjusted.

– Does that mean that it goes towards relief?

– I can not answer specifically, but I think it goes against adjustments to find out which areas it is most appropriate to introduce measures.

– A good sign

Forland, we believe will eventually have to endure living with more infection.

– The point going forward is to prevent us from getting too steep a rise of omikron, so that we get too many inpatients at the same time. Maybe in the long run, omicron will become more like a cold virus.

The subject director is in no doubt that there will be new virus variants, but is not particularly worried about that reason.

– There will be new varieties in the future, all the time. But it will be the most contagious varieties that take over. And when the most contagious varieties tend to be less dangerous, it is probably the direction it goes, says Forland, and adds:

– So far, omicron has been the most contagious, and it takes over for the more serious variants we have had before. So it’s kind of a good sign of the times. But that there will be an end to varieties, it does not.

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