The Danish health authorities inform Dagbladet that they are sequencing several times more samples than the National Institute of Public Health at present. This is one of the most important tools to prevent the spread of the omicron variant.
Sequencing is an analysis method that the Norwegian Institute of Public Health uses to uncover who is infected with the omicron variant. How much capacity one has to analyze positive samples, and how long it takes before one gets answers to these analyzes, is important for the municipalities’ ability to prevent the spread of omicrons.
This was given great attention when the alpha variant took over Norway in the winter of 2021. At that time, it took 13 days from FHI received a positive sample and until they were able to reveal that it was the alpha variant that was detected.
Later, the City of Oslo demanded that all positive samples from the Oslo region be analyzed as soon as possible. This is to get an overview of the spread of the alpha variant at the time.
Capacity in Denmark
The Statens Serum Institut now informs Dagbladet that they are sequencing more than 10,000 samples a week, and that they expect to be able to sequence 15,000 samples a week by the end of 2021.
Furthermore, they state that in 2021 they have tried to completely sequence more than 90 percent of all positive samples.
At present, SSI estimates that they will receive analytical results four days after the coronate test is taken.
Capacity in Norway
In comparison, the National Institute of Public Health informs Dagbladet that in Norway more than 1000 samples are sequenced a week.
Furthermore, they state that in recent weeks, more than 30 percent of all reported cases have been genome-sequenced.
FHI says that they have the opportunity to receive an analysis answer one day after the test is taken, but that this requires overtime work. When sequencing is performed within normal working hours, it can take anywhere from four to 14 days to get analytical results.
– Best in Europe
Chief physician Preben Aavitsland says that FHI has not prioritized building up as much capacity as Denmark.
– Denmark has the best capacity in Europe. We have not prioritized building up such a large capacity, says Aavitsland to Dagbladet.
– How does this affect Norway’s ability to handle the omicron variant, compared to Denmark?
– It affects the ability to a small degree. We have good capacity, because it is not necessary to sequence all the samples. The laboratories can use the PCR test to sort out samples that are not the delta variants, which are now 100 percent of the samples. If a non-delta virus is detected, we can sequence it.
Aavitsland also tells Dagbladet that the ECDC goal is to sequence as a percentage of the positive samples, or between 500 and 1500 samples a week. Aavitsland believes that Norway’s surveillance is currently very good.
On Monday, FHI informed the government that they have intensified the monitoring of virus variants in Norway.
“We ask the health trusts to facilitate the screening of all test-positive SARS-CoV-2 detections. “We have advised the medical-microbiological laboratories that they should screen for variants and methods for this,” they wrote to the government.
«If the sequencing of relevant viruses is not done locally, the viruses must be sent immediately to the national reference laboratory at the National Institute of Public Health. In the municipalities, it is important to send samples for PCR analysis from patients who are part of special outbreaks, who have been infected abroad or who have been infected by someone who has been infected abroad. We want to inform the municipal doctors about this ».