Everyone’s watching Denmark but cases are climbing.
Denmark was one of the first places to lift coronavirus restrictions at the beginning of February 2022. However, now there seems to be a surge in cases. In fact, the country is reporting the most cases per capita than many others.
“COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths have jumped by nearly a third,” data shows.
“Not looking good in Denmark. Deaths are now 67% of peak with a steep ascent,” Eric Topol, MD, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, tweeted. “The world is looking to Denmark as a guide to removing all restrictions. It seems that we’ve seen this movie before.”
COVID-19 cases peaked following the onset of BA.2, the Omicron subvariant. BA.2 could be more dangerous than BA.1, according to a new study in Japan, published in bioRxiv. However, the study has not been peer-reviewed yet, the World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet made a formal determination regarding whether it is. The study used hamsters that were administered BA.1 and BA.2 and the rodents that were infected with BA.2 got sicker than those that were injected with BA.1. Severe symptoms include a headache, muscle weakness, persistent pain, hair loss, dizziness, shortness of breath, loss of smell or lung scarring, among others.
Hospitalizations also climbed in Denmark by mid-February. “About 1½ times more Danes are now hospitalized with COVID-19 than ever before during the pandemic,” according to the data.
Despite the increase in cases, “about 81% of Danes are fully vaccinated, including 95% of those over age 65, and 62% have received a booster dose,” according to the Danish Health Authority, which added that the country has a very low hospitalization rate overall.
“Overall mortality in Denmark in all age categories has now fallen into the normal spectrum as Omicron has become fully dominant,” Søren Neermark, an official at the Danish Health Authority, said, adding, “Denmark shouldn’t necessarily be used as a model for other countries. Denmark cannot be used as a [sole] argument for lifting restrictions or maintaining restrictions in other countries. The capacity of the healthcare system in each country will vary and the same [with] overall vaxrate, trust, test, prior immunity etc.”
“In reality, countries will need to decide based on their own factors, and restrictions will likely toggle on and off in response to changing conditions,” Kristian Andersen, PhD, an immunologist at the Scripps Research Institute, said. Andersen is a a Danish expat and said he “has been watching the situation in Denmark closely in recent weeks to understand the trends. “We have to be realistic. If we say we’re not going to have restrictions, it’s up to you to get your boosters and wear a face mask if you can. We should probably expect that for the next few years to come, most people will get infected a couple of times a year. And we should expect 200,000 to 250,000 deaths [a year] in this country alone. To keep up with the coronavirus, countries will also need to prioritize innovation, namely with better home testing, better masks, better vaccines, better antivirals. But it also requires that we realize [COVID] is going to be a problem we’re going to continue to deal with during the next 5 to 10 years. If we say it’s all over, my concern is that the innovation stops. Because then it’s like, ‘Well, what’s the point?'”