After a year and a half with a state of emergency, Norway is moving into a new paradigm where the coronavirus is no longer far more than other respiratory infections.
– We are now in a new phase where we must look at the coronavirus as one of several respiratory diseases with seasonal variation, says assistant director Geir Bukholm in FHI to VG.
This is because the vast majority of those at risk are protected. And although the infection continues to circulate, hospital numbers remain low. Thus, the coronavirus will not lead to a heavy burden on the health service. For those vaccinated who may become infected and have problems, the vast majority will have mild cold-like symptoms.
The coronavirus can therefore cause other respiratory diseases such as colds and seasonal flu.
This means that the coronavirus can now be compared in particular with seasonal flu and RS infections.
Epidemic on austerity
– No, that definitely does not mean. The pandemic is not over as challenging as it is in the world and in countries where vaccine coverage remains low. So the challenge of the disease spreading outside the territories of the rich countries is still a pandemic.
– Is the epidemic over, then?
– No, I do not want to say that. But it is down to a saving flame in Norway and in many countries that have good vaccine coverage.
Of the population over the age of 18, 90 percent have received the first dose and 83 percent have been fully vaccinated.
Denmark opened up the country full a little over a week ago. The Danish professor Søren Riis Paludan has pointed out one important thing to VG, which he believes made the Danes able to adjust to a new everyday life: That over several months they have stopped focusing on infection rates.
With few exceptions, they focus on hospitalizations and vaccinations, and not on infection, he says.
Bukholm agrees with this. His boss Camilla Stoltenberg has also previously told VG that here too she must focus on infection rates and not focus on hospitalizations either.
– Reached the top
Bukholm also does not believe that the hospitals will be burdened with covid patients, but that it may be challenged by the combination of covid, RS virus and influenza this winter.
– I think we have reached the top this time. Then I think we can get a winter wave coming later. But we do not think it will get bigger yet that the health service can not handle it.
What could go wrong in the next few weeks for the infection to skyrocket?
– That people do not follow the usual hygiene rules and do not stay at home when you are ill, and adds that the seasonal effect this winter and new varieties can also play a role.