Earlier this year I was watching Denmark for signs of how the Alpha variant would behave. That was partly because their amazing sequencing effort gave such a clear view of what was happening.
Now I’m watching Denmark again, but for a different reason.
Yesterday, Denmark abandoned the last corona restrictions. With more than 95% of the over-60s vaccinated, the country hopes to be able to treat #covid19 more like the flu going forward. It’s an experiment and we will see how it plays out.
I will be watching it closely because Denmark will give us some clues to what “living with the virus” might look like. It could also give us important information on the speed at which immunity wanes and the frequency and seriousness of breakthrough infections.
But it’s also interesting to understand how Denmark even got to this point. And I wanted to share a few points from my research for the latest @pandemipodcast episode which is all about Denmark.
So what can we learn for Denmark?
Danish researcher @M_B_Petersen studies how different countries have reacted to the pandemic as well as public attitudes to the policies. He says that communication was key and that it worked well in Denmark.
Great thread from him here:
You have to be “transparent about the uncertainty that is inherent to your decisions, while at the same time giving unambiguous advice for how the public should act”, @M_B_Petersen told me. “That's a very, very delicate balance to strike.” Denmark managed that well, he says
There was a strong sense of the pandemic being a threat that had to be tackled together, he says.
“This sense that this is a collective project has been very, very important for understanding how Denmark ended where we are right now.”
For instance: Petersen’s data suggests that Danish people were just as worried as people in other countries about side effects of the vaccines. About 40% of people were worried about vaccine side effects that might not have been discovered yet.
But in Denmark these people tended to get vaccinated anyway, because they felt it was their duty to society. “That’s actually one of the biggest predictors of vaccine acceptance in Denmark, this sense of a duty”, says @M_B_Petersen.
So should other countries follow Denmark? “If you have a lower coverage in the elderly, you should not try to do what Denmark is trying right now.”, @LoneSimonsen2 told me. “We’re simply banking on this full coverage of the people at high risk.”
@LoneSimonsen2 If you want to hear more (and speak German), latest episode of @pandemiapodcast is here:

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More from @kakape

12 Sep
Last week I met Jeremy Farrar in Berlin and since then I’ve kept going over some of what he said, since it seems pretty crucial for the next phase of the pandemic in Europe. So a quick thread
(You can also hear him say some of this in our new @pandemiapodcast episode)
@pandemiapodcast At least in Europe, "what you're witnessing, I think at the moment is the shift from epidemic/pandemic state into an endemic state”, Farrar said.
“And none of us are really quite sure what that endemic state is going to look like.”
@pandemiapodcast The argument is simple: #SARSCoV2 is clearly not going away any time soon. As vaccines blunt some of the impact of the virus at the societal level, #covid19 may still be terrible and still cause disease and death but maybe at a level society can or will or has to accept.
Read 15 tweets
11 Sep
Gestern wurden in Dänemark die letzten Corona-Beschränkungen aufgehoben und das war für uns Anlass eine Folge @pandemiapodcast zum “Ende der Pandemie” aufzunehmen:
Was heißt eigentlich “Ende”? Was passiert in Dänemark jetzt? Und wie steht Deutschland da?
Die Masken wurden in Dänemark schon im vergangenen Monat abgelegt. Nun ist auch kein Impfnachweis mehr nötig für Konzerte und andere Großveranstaltungen. Das Leben ist weitgehend so wie vor Corona. Dänemark markiert damit den Übergang von der Pandemie in die Endemie.
Die Dänen sagen nicht, dass das Virus keine Rolle mehr spielt. Sie sagen, dass es nicht mehr eine so große Gefahr für die Gesellschaft birgt, dass es mit außergewöhnlichen Maßnahmen bekämpft werden muss.
Oder, wie @LoneSimonsen2 sagt: “Wir haben dem Virus die Zähne gezogen.”
Read 9 tweets
8 Sep
"Today, the #DRC declared an outbreak of meningitis in the north-eastern Tshopo Province, with 261 suspected cases and 129 deaths reported”, @DrTedros says at start of @WHO presser.
A reminder that #covid19 "is far from the only health threat to which WHO is responding”, he says
@DrTedros @WHO "Over 50,000 people have died with #COVID19 every week since October last year and for the past month, deaths have remained at almost 70,000 a week”, says @DrTedros.
Solutions to save lives are there, he says, “but those solutions are not being used well nor shared well."
@DrTedros @WHO "Some countries with the highest vaccine coverage are now seeing a decoupling of #COVID19 cases and deaths, which is allowing them to reopen their societies without their health systems being overwhelmed”, says @DrTedros.
Read 12 tweets
1 Sep
Since this question comes up quite a bit:
Once the @WHO runs out of Greek letters to name variants of #sarscov2 it plans to start using the names of stars or constellations such as say Virgo, Draco or Orion.
„They will be less common stars/constellations, easy to pronounce“, @mvankerkhove wrote me. „We are just checking internally with our regional colleagues to ensure none of them cause any offence or are common names in local languages.“
We will see what ends up on the list (examples in the first tweet were just from me to illustrate it). Probably best not to call a variant „sirius“ variant since that might lead to some misunderstandings ;)
Read 5 tweets
1 Sep
So after a year and a half of live tweeting @WHO press conferences from afar through zoom, I‘m actually attending one in person today (WHO having been kind enough to move their press conference to Berlin for the day to make this possible ;))
@WHO “Last week, the number of #COVID19 cases and deaths reported to WHO declined for the first time in more than two months”, says @DrTedros. “This is welcome, but it does not mean much.” Cases still increasing in many countries and shocking inequities persist, he says.
@WHO @DrTedros Waning immunity may make third shots necessary in the most vulnerable populations such as immunocompromised people, says @drtedros. “But for now, we do not want to see widespread use of boosters from healthy people who are fully vaccinated."
Read 6 tweets
1 Sep
Attending the opening of @WHO’s new Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin today. There’s a lot of symbolism here, more about that later.
For now, a photo of Tedros and Merkel cutting some red (and white) tape ;)
Haven’t seen this many high-profile leaders in global health in a room in a very long time.
Official program of the ceremony gives an idea:
The Hub will be directed by @Chikwe_I who will move from the Nigerian CDC to @WHO as an assistant director general for health emergency intelligence.
Read 8 tweets

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