Health officials in Denmark will stop classifying the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) as an “illness which is a critical threat to society.” This means all pandemic restrictions will expire on September 10. In a statement, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke touted high vaccination rates, in particular, among the elderly, as the primary driver for the decision.
“The epidemic is under control, we have record high vaccination rates,” said Heunicke. “As a result, on September 10th, we can drop some of the special rules we have had to introduce in the fight against Covid-19.”
Denmark was among the first countries in Europe to impose lockdown measures against the coronavirus. Last March, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen ordered the closure of all schools and universities, as well as imposed limitations on social gatherings.
It was just this year that officials started to relax restrictions, which include an increase in the incidence threshold before a lockdown is triggered.
With the new order, all coronavirus restrictions will expire on September 10.
Move led by Denmark’s blue bloc
The conservative bloc, led by the Liberal Party, had already stated that COVID-19 should no longer be classified as a serious threat to society. The announcement, which came out Friday morning, came less than an hour before a meeting between the Social Democratic Party, the Folketing’s ruling party, and members of the epidemic committee.
“When it sinks in for the Social Democrat government that they are in a minority, they then come up with better ideas just 45 minutes before the meeting in the Epidemic Committee is starting,” said Sophie Lohde, a member of the Liberal Party.
Restrictions easing up
Certain restrictions are set to expire earlier. Restaurants and pubs will no longer require a valid coronavirus pass to enter starting September 1. In addition, discos and nightclubs will also be allowed to reopen, and visitors will no longer need passes after September 10. Those attending football matches with over 2,000 people will not be required to produce a coronavirus pass starting September 10.
Restrictions for travel into Denmark will still continue. A Health Ministry spokesperson said that these are covered by a different interparty agreement set to expire in October.
Another round of vaccinations for the immunocompromised
The Danish Medicines Agency also announced that it will offer a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines to those with severely weakened immune systems. According to health officials, these people have an increased risk of severe COVID-19 infections. In addition, they admitted that vaccines have a lower effect on immunocompromised groups than the rest of the population.
“[People] may have insufficient effect of vaccination against COVID-19, just as they may have reduced effect of other vaccines,” the agency added.
The new round of vaccinations will affect around 200,000 people. These included people with immune deficiency diseases, organ transplants, cancer patients with ongoing or recently terminated cancer treatment, among others.
Research says otherwise
Experts in the U.K., however, have warned that coronavirus vaccines — in particular, Pfizer/BioNTech — destroy T cells and weaken the immune system. In a recent study, they found that patients injected with the Pfizer/BioNTech had produced fewer neutralizing antibodies against coronavirus variants.
Their findings were worse for older people who have weaker immune systems, as they produce even fewer antibodies.
“So, the key message from our finding is we found that recipients of the Pfizer vaccine, those who have had two doses, have about five- to six-fold lower amounts of neutralizing antibodies,” explained lead author David Bauer.
**By By Ralph Flores