On Friday just over a week ago, the Danes were finally able to have a beer in the city without showing a corona passport.
On 10 September, Denmark removed the last restrictions in the country, and corona is no longer considered a socially critical disease.
This means that the government cannot introduce new restrictions in society to reduce the spread of infection in the country.
– We have managed to build up an emergency preparedness in infected areas of society. Our comprehensive test regime, rapid roll-out of the vaccine, infection detection and our model for local shutdowns when we have greater performance are the reasons why we succeed, said the Minister of Health in Denmark, Magnus Heunicke, to NRK on the reopening day.
Vaccination attendance has been considerably high in Denmark, and reached as much as 86 percent of the population over the age of 16 fully vaccinated in the country, according to figures from Statens Serum Institut.
“The epidemic is under control, we have record high vaccination rates,” Heunicke said at a press conference at the end of August.
In Sweden, the official date for recovery has been 29 September, but in Norway it has been possible to recover several more times.
Vaccination of charge
While in Denmark and Sweden there is a clear date for reopening, in Norway I have been able to update data.
Minister of Health Bent Høie says TV 2 that the main difference between Norway and Denmark is that they are a few weeks ahead of Norway in the vaccination.
As of 12 September, 79 per cent of the population over the age of 16 in Norway have been fully vaccinated. The National Institute of Public Health writes in its weekly report from week 36.
Immunologist and researcher at Rikshospitalet, Gunnveig Grødeland, points to the explanation she believes is crucial for Norway to be further behind with the vaccination than our neighboring country.
– They start earlier with the vaccination of 16- and 17-year-olds. I think that has been crucial, says Grødeland to Dagbladet.
Already at the end of June, Denmark began vaccinating 16-and-17-year-olds. In Norway, the vaccination of this target group was not started until I ended August.
The same is true for the vaccination of the age group 12-15.
In Denmark, well over 50 percent of this age group has been fully vaccinated, while in Norway, per. September 12, had vaccinated 12,702 girls and 12,470 boys aged 12-15. Vaccination of this age group first started in Norway in early September.
– Goes down steadily
One month ago, Denmark had twice as high an infection pressure as Norway. However, that has changed now, and infection in the country is stably low.
Infection rates in Norway exploded just to get the page back, but the curve is now heading down again.
– After Denmark has reopened the country, there has been a surprising bra.
Lone Simonsen tells Dagbladet. She is a professor at the Department of Science and the Environment at Roskilde University, and head of the pandemic center in Denmark. In addition, through the pandemic, she has been an expert advisor to the government in the country.
– The infection numbers are steadily declining, but it is still possible to be tested now, compared to sweets it was before, more importantly Simonsen.
Professor at Aarhus University, Andreas Roepstorff, agrees with his colleague. He is one of the researchers who has participated in the “HOPE project”, which has carried out surveys and analyzes of the Danes’ attitude to corona and the vaccine.
Roepstorff tells Dagbladet that there is nothing to indicate that the reopening in Denmark has been premature.
– Collective coordination
Simonsen and Roepstorff believe that there are several reasons why Norway is behind Denmark in the reopening, and they point to specific reasons that have helped Denmark along the way.
– This summer, we bought 1.2 million vaccine doses from Romania, which made the vaccination much faster, Simonsen says.
Furthermore, she points out that they could speed up the vaccine program by about a month in relation to Norway.
The other reason they both point to is mass testing and the country’s frequent use of corona passes. From April, the Danish population had to use the corona passport to go to cafes, restaurants and the hairdresser.
– Mass testing was very important. It was introduced so that Danes could live more openly, and the massive efforts have reduced the number of infections by 25 percent since the new year, Simonsen estimates.
She believes the corona passport may also have helped the country speed up vaccination.
Roepstorff says that mass testing has led to the population feeling a shared responsibility.
– Many Danes have thus felt that it has been a collective coordination to reduce the infection. Nor has there been coercion in society, he says.
Uncertainty about immunity
Immunologist Gunnveig Grødeland says that Denmark has removed all restrictions, among other things because they have finished vaccinating the people in the risk groups. However, she showed that this is also the case in Norway.
– The reason why Norway has not reopened yet, I think it is because there is still uncertainty about the vaccine effect and immunity in the most vulnerable groups. Among other things, we see in Israel that immunity to infection is declining, but that it continues to protect well against general illness and death. When you wait in Norway, I think it is because they want to map this better, she says to Dagbladet.
As many as 95 percent of the population over the age of 50 have been fully vaccinated in Denmark, according to the Statens Serum Institut. The authorities in the country estimate that it is people over this age who have the greatest risk of hospitalization or death.
Similarly, 91 percent of the population over the age of 45 in Norway are fully vaccinated, according to FHI.
Common to Norway and Denmark is that there has generally been a high level of trust in both the health authorities, the government’s handling and the press. All the researchers point this out.
Roepstorff says that it has been crucial that the authority has communicated openings about the uncertainty associated with both the vaccine and the virus.
– It was very worrying to allow for the vaccine to be weakened after it became known that AstraZeneca could lead to blood clots, but could not quickly stay again. There were also some small misses along the way, like the mink scandal to the government. It affects confidence in the short term, but it was not a long-term trail, says Roepstorff.
He believes that Denmark can print countries such as France and Germany, and this has been another skepticism about the vaccine and corona.
– There has been less vaccine support and more requirements. It is a paradox that there have been stricter requirements for vaccination in those countries where there is more skepticism, says the researcher.