Friday, January 28

FHI director: Not sure how the Christmas celebration will turn out

Camilla Stoltenberg is worried about the start of the year, but she hopes we will not need new rounds with strict measures.

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– We were not surprised that a new variant came. What will always be surprising is exactly when it comes, says Stoltenberg.

It’s only three months ago the reopening of Norway was celebrated, and the meter folded. At the same time, new mutations were what the previous government highlighted as one uncertainty factor that could give one new shutdown.

– When everyone talked about normal everyday life with increased preparedness, I was often asked if we should bounce the champagne soon. Then I said that our job is always to work with increased preparedness, but this drowned a little in the relief over the normal everyday life, I think.

This is what they are worried about

FHI director has told VG that she is quite worried about the time after the New Year.

About omikron infects as many as in FHI’s most pessimistic scenarios, there will be a load that is unlike anything we have seen before – with up to 5,000 inpatients at once at the end of January.

Even in the optimistic scenarios, there could be a difficult peak in May with up to 1,000 inpatients.

– Could it be that we have to go through it at some point anyway?

– It can be of very many will be infected anyway. Then it is an advantage if it happens with a vaccinated population that has good protection against serious disease, and a variant that spreads quickly and does not cause as serious disease, says Stoltenberg.

She emphasizes that the scenarios are not intended as forecasts that say exactly how the development will be. But she says the most important thing is to prepare for the worse scenarios.

Stoltenberg says that there is always a great deal of uncertainty surrounding new mutations. At the same time, she says that FHI is becoming less and less uncertain, as omikron spreads in other countries.

– It’s crazy to think about how much more we know about omikron now than a month ago when we heard about it for the first time. But I do not think we have seen the consequences of omicron infection among the elderly and vulnerable groups yet. It will be important. There are many who have been vaccinated with the third dose in both the UK, Denmark and Norway, so we will get an answer on whether it is sufficient in a short time.

Although there are signs that omikron can give milder disease, health authorities are concerned that so many are infected at once that that it can lead to an overload of health services in municipalities and hospitals, and other societal functions.

– We do not know if it is the case that it causes milder disease, although some may indicate it, and if it is so, the question is whether it is only in vaccinated, says Stoltenberg.

– Hope we do not need new rounds

FHI looks a lot to Denmark, among others, which has often been ahead of Norway when new mutations spread. There they had one on Wednesday infection record with 23,000 new cases in one day, and the Statens Serum Institut (SSI) estimates that 80 percent of the positive corona tests in Denmark are now omicron.

Infection rates in Norway have not increased as much yet. In Norway, FHI has said that omikron dominates in Oslo and Viken, and they reckon with that omikron becomes dominant in a few weeks.

– We are uncertain about the infection numbers because people behave a little differently in connection with public holidays in general when it comes to both testing and social contact. So how Christmas will turn out if we look 2-3 weeks ahead is difficult to say, says Stoltenberg.

Many booster doses are now being set in European countries, and in countries with less access to vaccines, more and more people are gaining immunity through infection. This increases global immunity.

– It will increase a lot during the coming year, it has done so in the past year. So what matters is how it increases – whether it increases in a way that takes the lives of many people, or in a more gentle way.

– Do you think we can have measures next Christmas as well?

– I hope that we will not need new rounds of intervention measures, and that we will manage with vaccination and less intervention measures in periods, perhaps only locally. But we must always be prepared for something more for a good while, and be prepared for it continuously.

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