Covid-19: New omicron variant spreading in Norway

A new Covid-19 omicron variant, BF.7, which may be more resistant to vaccines, has begun spreading throughout Norway.

Coronavirus sample
Health authorities are now asking people in the risk group, both for the flu and coronavirus, to get vaccinated. Photo by Mufid Majnun / Unsplash

At the time of writing, B.A.5 is still the most common omicron variant in Norway, but BF.7 is on the rise – it is now detected in 1 in 10 virus samples in Norway analysed by the National Institute of Public Health (FHI).

“We now have a situation where there is a lot of infection throughout Europe, but we have vaccinated the vast majority (of people in Norway),” Assistant Health Director a the Norwegian Directorate of Health Espen Rostrup Nakstad said to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

BF.7 and a number of other variants have structural changes that can affect the vaccine people have taken and the protection the vaccine offers.

Weakened protection

“This means that we have to expect that the vaccine may not protect as well as it has done in the past, at least when it comes to infection. But it is not certain that it will have a big impact on whether you will become seriously ill or not,” Nakstad added.

He added that new coronavirus variants emerge naturally.

“This is a completely natural development. What you see in Europe now is that there are changes that are coming because the virus is trying to circumvent the immunity effect that we have acquired. It is completely natural for the virus to make such changes,” Nakstad explained.

Health authorities are now asking people in the risk group, both for the flu and coronavirus, to get vaccinated. They also remind people to wash their hands and keep a distance from people if they feel sick.

Flu season

Nakstad also warns that, in addition to the new omicron variant, there are also a lot of flu cases in Norway this season.

“There could, of course, be a lot of sick leave if we get a wave of (coronavirus) infection and flu at the same time in the Winter.

“But so far this Autumn, it looks like these (infection) waves we have seen in Europe have not been very big, and it looks like they have subsided in multiple places.

“So, we are probably in a situation where our general resistance and population immunity are actually starting to strengthen – even though we see more virus variants,” Nakstad concluded.

READ MORE: How to get the flu vaccine in Norway

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Norway ‘enters new Covid wave’ as minister issues warning

Norway is at the beginning of a new wave of Covid-19, according to the latest report from the Norwegian Insitute of Public Health. Meanwhile, the Norwegian Minister of Health has said measures could return if hospitals are overrun.

Norway 'enters new Covid wave' as minister issues warning

The spread of coronavirus infection in Norway is increasing, and the number of deaths and hospitalisations is on the up, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) writes in its latest assessment of the virus in Norway. 

It added that the increase in Covid was likely the beginning of a new wave of the disease. 

“It is uncertain how big this wave will be, but it is likely that a winter wave with the variants we know now (about) will not put a significantly greater burden on hospitals than the summer wave in 2022 did,” the NIPH said in the report. 

Over the last week weeks, 316 people in Norway have been hospitalised with the coronavirus. 

Norwegian Minister of Health and Social Care, Ingvild Kjerkol, said that the government would bring back Covid-19 measures if hospitals became overrun with the virus. 

“We have plans to be able to step up measures, if necessary,” Kjerkol told Norwegian newswire NTB on Wednesday.

 “What we are particularly watching now is whether we get several epidemics at the same time, i.e. a tough season with, for example, winter flu and increased corona infection,” Kjerkol added. 

Earlier this week, Assistant Health Director at the Norwegian Directorate of Health, Espen Rostrup Nakstad, said that a new Covid-19 Omicron variant, which may be more resistant to vaccines, had begun to spread.