British people are still very afraid of Covid-19 until now. On September 6 alone, the UK recorded 41,000 positive cases. Fear of a new blockade looms. Schools that operate with routine testing twice a week must be equipped with air purifiers and mobile hand washing stations. And then there are many controversies surrounding the vaccination program: is a third dose needed, should children be vaccinated between 12 and 15 years old? Lots of things to worry about.
Britain and many other European countries are probably in turmoil. But in a country just a few hundred miles from England, Covid-19 is officially recognized as having been completely solved, a thing of the past.
Denmark (left) is a different story from England
That country is Denmark. On September 10, Denmark will officially lift the last Covid restrictions, with the country’s government declaring “the virus is no longer a threat to society” after successfully covering the vaccine for 72% of the population. number (in the UK it is only 62%).
“The pandemic is under control,” – Danish Minister of Health Magnus Heunicke announced a week ago.
In fact, at the beginning of the pandemic, Denmark was the first country in Northern Europe to issue blockade orders. Now, they are also the first country in this region to remove them. And with this perspective, Denmark teaches the world lessons on how to get back to normal life: When you can’t bring cases to zero, find a way to live with it!
The first lesson: The key is the vaccine
The transition back to life before the epidemic in Denmark started a few months ago. The Danish government at the time stated that with 95% of high-risk groups – including doctors, citizens over 60 years old, nursing home workers… had been vaccinated, the country could afford it. against a large wave of infections.
In an information update at the end of August 2021, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen affirmed that “vaccine is a super weapon to defeat the epidemic”.
“Life is slowly returning to normal,” – Frederiksen said. “And we will obviously try to avoid a major blockade in the future.”
Number of infections per day per 1 million inhabitants of Denmark (red line) and UK (blue line)
Denmark then announced plans to downsize its already impressive testing facility, closing down almost all of its rapid testing stations by the end of September. The 1m minimum distance rule was also canceled. removed – meaning there is no longer a need to leave empty seats between customers in a public place (like a church or a movie theater).
Also from September 6, students at schools and kindergartens in Denmark will not be sent home in case of an infected person in the classroom. And this September, bars and restaurants no longer need to ask customers to show “vaccine cards” (coronapas). The 2 a.m. closure rule has also been lifted, allowing music events to be held at full capacity. Even nightclubs have been licensed to open after 18 months of dormancy.
Number of daily deaths per million inhabitants in the UK and Denmark
And all of that happened despite a week where the number of positive cases increased five times from a fairly low level since late June. But the number of deaths was just under 10 – down from more than 200 cases at the most stressful time of the epidemic in January 2021.
“We are seeing a not very serious epidemic in Denmark,” – Viggo Andreasen, associate professor of PandemiX Center at Roskilde University explains.
The unvaccinated group will automatically be immune
The number of people hospitalized for treatment because of Covid was 123 patients as of September 7 – an increase of 2 times compared to the previous month. Health Minister Heunicke said the situation still cannot be subjective, because there are risks for those who have not been vaccinated.
Children aged 15-18 in Denmark, only 43.5% received 2 doses. The group of over 20 years old is also showing signs of slowing down in vaccination rate.
“During the winter, we will see a large wave of the epidemic in schools,” – quote Andreasen. “Although this idea is not accepted, the evidence is quite clear, especially in elementary schools.”
According to Heunicke’s calculations, when all restrictions are lifted, at least half of the unvaccinated people (whether they refused the shot, were not vaccinated, or were too young to be vaccinated) would form antibodies on their own. through infection within the next 6 months.
But while Britain has faced public anxiety and calls to wear masks after reopening schools, the pressure on Denmark is different. Organizations and parties have recently called for allowing children who have been in close contact with the case to no longer need to self-isolate at home.
Currently, teachers and students from 12 to 16 years old in Denmark are encouraged (not forced) to have rapid tests every 72 hours, or PCR every 96 hours. However, this incentive is expected to end at the end of September, or even be canceled earlier than that.
Not everyone is happy with this change. Denmark is inherently a country with very strong trust from the public to government experts. However, with a large percentage of foreigners living here, the shift from a cautious, timely attitude to a much more relaxed approach after vaccination is indeed alarming.
“Looking at hospital admission rates around the world is really disturbing,” – Jonathan Bauer, an American teacher at Jutland Middle School (Denmark). Bauer’s wife is also in the high-risk group.
“The pandemic isn’t over yet, but the train I took this morning was packed. It made me feel uncomfortable.” At least 2 lessons a week, Bauer leaves the classroom door open when teaching children under 12 years old who have not been vaccinated.
Chung told Bauer, an American woman living in Copenhagen, that future generations are at risk. “It would be quite unethical to say that we should just let our kids catch Covid and build their own immunity, while risking their cognitive impairment for life.”
The unnamed woman also confirmed that her family will stop eating out because restaurants no longer require vaccination cards. Unlike most Danes, her family always wears masks – the kind with the best level of protection – when shopping or gathering in crowds.
The electronic vaccine card was once considered useful in Denmark
Mads Snedevind – manager of a bar in Copenhagen commented that the Covid vaccination card that Denmark pioneered 6 months ago was quite useful. “Thanks to it, everything seems to be back to normal. When you’re allowed in, you understand that everyone is vaccinated and safe, and that not having to wear a mask feels normal.”
And not all Danes feel that the strategy Denmark is pursuing here is the right one. According to Andreasen, the concerns of Snedevind and the other two Americans are somewhat reasonable.
“The new strategy is putting unvaccinated adults at risk.”
Andreasen commented, allowing the virus to spread freely in schools can also cause unexpected danger. He said that the policy should still be maintained for children exposed to cases to go home to self-isolate, instead of continuing to study as before.
And now, the whole world is anxiously waiting to see what will happen to Denmark in the near future.