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NEW COVID-19 strategy for the cold season

At a press meeting on 22 June, the Danish Health Authorities presented the plans for the next cold season’s epidemic response.

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By Bente D. Knudsen

Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, opened the press meeting stating:

”It has been six months since we last met for a coronavirus press meeting, for that we are very thankful, this one is to present our plans for the autumn and winter season 2022/2023”.

A change in strategy from avoiding contagion by taking drastic measures to the new one; avoiding serious illness.

Avoiding serious illness means making sure that those most at risk can get a booster vaccine, as even if the vaccine does not protect efficiently against infection, it still protects against the more serious effects of the illness.

Søren Brostrøm, Director of the Danish Health Board, Sundhedstyrelsen in Danish, explained that from a measure of carefulness it has been decided that in Denmark, the age set for giving a free booster vaccine is at 50, 10 years younger than the WHO recommendation of 60.

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From 15 September, the elderly in care facilities will be offered the vaccine and from 1 October all from the age of 50 will be able to book a vaccine. There will again be vaccine centres but also GP’s and pharmacies who offer the vaccine.

Søren Brostrøm said that the reason for offering a booster vaccine is that it still protects against severe illness but that the effect of the vaccine against contagion is not good after three to four months, therefore the timing of the booster vaccine is an act of balance.

It must come soon enough to protect against severe illness but not too soon to have the effect wear off before the main “flu” season is expected.

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In Denmark, the main “flu” season runs from end November to end February, usually with a high mid-December to mid-January. But of course, with variations from one season to the next.

For those below the age of 50, it will NOT be possible to buy a vaccine, however, for those in need due to health issues it will be possible to have one ordinated by a GP.

What the position of the Danish authorities will be for those travelling, who may be required to get a booster vaccine certificate, was not clear.

At present, the Danish authorities cannot offer the updated variant vaccine but as soon as one has been approved, the authorities will be purchasing variant updated vaccines. The vaccines offered in Denmark will again be the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

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At the press meeting the Danish Health Authorities also informed about the current summer outbreak of another more contagious variant of Omikron, the BA 5.

This summer outbreak is expected to last four weeks but does not have any impact on the strategy as, even if more contagious, it does not at present more severe effects than the previously dominant coronavirus variant the BA2.

The BA5 is the name of the variant which has been seen in summer outbreaks in Portugal, South Africa and lately in Germany as well.

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The authorities are also preparing to upscale the PCR test centres, which can be upscaled to more than 200,000 tests a day if needed. However, the so-called quick test centres will not be reopened as the tests are now widely available in retail outlets.

The authorities reminded of the strong recommendaation to  take a test when symptoms present themselves and to stay at home when ill.

Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, stressed that the strategy is to keep Denmark open, as the coronavirus strategy is now to limit effects of severe illnesses, not to avoid spread.

Therefore, there are no plans to close down Denmark again, the plan is to keep the country open and to learn to live with coronavirus.

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Director Søren Brostrøm said that at present the authorities do not expect variants that are more severe than those known already, however, covid-19 has been an illness full of surprises and should a more serious variant arise, measures will be discussed again.

But with the variants known at present and expected to be seen during the coming cold season, no further measures will be taken.

The public information site at https://coronasmitte.dk/ is still active and updated with information.

Your Danish Life will keep updating when relevant.

Stay safe and have a good summer.

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