Norway considers lifting measures for people who have had their first Covid vaccine

Social distancing at home and other measures in Norway may be lifted for people who have received their first Coronavirus vaccine, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) said on Friday.

Norway considers lifting measures for people who have had their first Covid vaccine
Somebody receiving a Coronavirus vaccine. (Photo by STR / AFP)

The NIPH is assessing whether people who have received their first dose of the vaccine will no longer have to practice social distancing at home three weeks after getting the jab.

“It’s worth looking at easing measures for those who have received the first dose,” Infection Control Director at the NIPH, Geir Bukholm, told national newspaper VG.

On Wednesday, Norway announced that those who have been fully vaccinated will no longer have to observe socially distance at home.

Bukholm also said that the NIPH would look at lifting certain measures for those who have been vaccinated.

“We may be able to facilitate lifting some measures such as quarantine, access to public events, or how large groups can gather,” Bukholm said.

The health chief, however, could not offer anymore specific details on what exact measures could be lifted and when.

The health authority will present its recommendation to the government in May.

READ MORE: Norway scraps social distancing rules at home for fully vaccinated

Furthermore, the interval between vaccine doses is being increased from six to twelve weeks, the government announced in a statement.

The change will apply to everyone under the age of 65.

The NIPH estimates that those aged between 18-44 will now have access to a vaccine five weeks earlier than previously planned. They plan to have offered everyone in this age group a vaccine by July.

“We received the recommendation from the National Institute of Public Health today and have decided to follow it. When we increase the interval, far more people get vaccinated earlier. This will contribute both to preventing serious illness and death and reducing the level of infection in society,” health minister Bent Høie said.

The government said that the increase in intervals between shots will not affect the vaccine’s effectiveness.

So far in Norway, 1.6 million people have received their first dose, and 310,000 are fully vaccinated.

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Covid deaths in Sweden ‘set to rise in coming weeks’

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has warned that the number of weekly Covid deaths is set to rise, after the number of people testing positive for the virus rose for the sixth week running.

Covid deaths in Sweden 'set to rise in coming weeks'

According to the agency, an average of 27 people have died with or from the virus a week over the past three weeks. 

“According to our analyses, the number who died in week 27 (July 4th-July 11th), is more than died in week 26 and we expect this to continue to grow,” the agency wrote in a report issued on Thursday. 

In the week ending July 17th (week 28), 4,700 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, a 22 percent rise on the previous week. 

“We are seeing rising infection levels of Covid-19 which means that there will be more people admitted to hospital, and even more who die with Covid-19,”  said Anneli Carlander, a unit chief at the agency. “The levels we are seeing now are higher than they were last summer, but we haven’t reached the same level we saw last winter when omicron was spreading for the first time.” 

While 27 deaths a week with for from Covid-19 is a rise on the low levels seen this spring, it is well below the peak death rate Sweden saw in April 2020, when more than 100 people were dying a day. 

The number of Covid deaths recorded each week this summer. Source. Public Health Agency of Sweden
A graph of Covid deaths per day since the start of the pandemic shows that the current death rate, while alarming, remains low. Photo: Public Health Agency of Sweden

Carlander said that cases were rising among those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and also elderly people given support in their own homes, groups which are recommended to get tested for the virus if they display symptoms. The infection rate among those given support in their homes has risen 40 percent on last week. 

This week there were also 12 new patients admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 in Sweden’s hospitals.  

The increase has come due to the new BA.5 variant of omicron, which is better able to infect people who have been vaccinated or already fallen ill with Covid-19. Vaccination or a past infection does, however, give protection against serious illness and death.