Covid-19 vaccines to thank for significantly fewer Danish infections and deaths, agency finds

Last week saw no deaths related to Covid-19 at care homes in Denmark, the first time that has been the case since September 2020.

Covid-19 vaccines to thank for significantly fewer Danish infections and deaths, agency finds
Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

That is because the vast majority of residents at the care homes have now been vaccinated against the coronavirus, the Danish national infectious disease agency State Serum Institute (SSI) has confirmed according to news wire Ritzau.

The first week of 2021 saw 81 deaths at care homes, a figure which reached zero by the ninth week of the year. Not since September has Denmark gone through a week without losing any elderly care home residents to the virus.

Care homes are also seeing a steep drop in the number of recorded cases of Covid-19.

Just a single case was registered last week, according to SSI. That compares to 464 in the first week of this year.

According to an SSI notification acquired by Ritzau, the infectious disease agency expects Denmark to reduce the number of coronavirus deaths by 81 percent once all people over 50 have been offered the vaccine. That stage is expected to be reached by June according to the current vaccination schedule.

An expert has previously said that the drop in cases and deaths in Denmark can only be attributed to vaccinations.

“When the fall-off is so extreme it is entirely clear that it is the vaccines that are making their mark now,” University of Copenhagen professor of immunology Jan Pravsgaard Christensen told broadcaster TV2.

Denmark began its Covid-19 vaccination programme on December 27th and currently expects to complete vaccinating its population by the end of July.

READ ALSO: Denmark to consider lifting coronavirus restrictions at care homes

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Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.”