FHI itself had low confidence in the figures which contributed to the country being shut down just before Christmas. Three weeks later we know how it went.
On 13 December, NIPH presented a risk assessment that was decisive for Norway being shut down.
Without strict measures, the omicron variant could have quite extreme effects on 4 January.
“In a preliminary scenario, we estimate that in three weeks there may be up to 90,000 and 300,000 cases per year. day and 50 to 200 admissions per. day if the measures do not slow down the epidemic significantly “, wrote FHI.
– It is now especially the National Institute of Public Health’s analyzes of the spread and growth in the rate of infection that we use as a basis for measures, said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre to NTB.
Three weeks later, the reality is quite different.
On 4 January, 5,233 new cases of infection were reported.
Both infection and patient numbers fell sharply for the closure measures took effect.
According to FHI director Camilla Stoltenberg, the scenario that FHI presented on 13 December was not realistic.
Such were the calculations that frightened Norway
It has gone significantly better than even the most optimistic scenario that NIPH presented to the government.
Already on the same day as Norway was closed, the omicron infection increased less than FHI’s most gloomy calculation.
In the entire period after the omicron was first detected in Norway, a total of 18,352 omicron cases have been detected up to 4 January.
The dark numbers are certainly large. Get tested at Christmas. In addition, many infection samples are not screened. Now that the holiday is over, the infection rates will probably increase sharply.
But in any case, Norway is not close to FHI’s scenarios from 13 December.
Significantly fewer patients than estimated
“The omikron variant will already in December cause a wave of many sick, many hospitalizations, significant burden on the health service and significant burden on society, among other things through widespread sickness absence,” wrote NIPH.
Until 4 January, between 124 and 504 omicron patients could be admitted, according to the FHI scenario.
This has not been the case either.
So far, 29 patients have been admitted due to omicron infection. These are preliminary figures. It takes several days for the numbers to be updated.
Completely unrealistic scenarios?
One explanation is, of course, that the measures have been very effective.
Since 13 December, Norway has been partially closed with a bar stop, mandatory bandages and a home office. Cultural life and a lot of sports have been canceled. High schools are at the red level. Maximum ten people visiting.
But another explanation is that FHI’s horror scenario for 4 January simply could not happen. The calculation was based on a number of assumptions that turned out to be incorrect.
FHI assumed, for example, that the omikron figures would double every other day for the rest of the year. And omikron has so far had less risk of serious illness and hospitalization.
The number of patients and infections fell before the closure measures began to work. It takes about two weeks from the time measures are implemented until it begins to have an effect on patient numbers.
The health authorities have no idea what effect the individual measures have, such as bar stops and closed restaurants.
Stoltenberg: – We did not think it was realistic
FHI points out that they have always emphasized that the scenarios were very uncertain. In the risk assessment on 13 December, FHI emphasized that the scenarios as illustrations on what could happen if measures were not introduced.
– We always said that we had very low confidence in the actual figures, but high confidence in a rapid increase, said FHI director Camilla Stoltenberg to Aftenposten after the last press conference before Christmas.
– We did not think it was realistic or probable. We have thought that it was a good illustration of a rapid increase in infection that has been seen both in Norway and many other countries.
– You went out with the numbers, and Støre said that this was part of the basis for the closure. Do you have any reason to regret the way you went out with the numbers?
– No. We have emphasized the uncertainty in them all along. The alternative is to have the numbers, but not show them. The population, the media and politicians have little appreciation for this. It was important to show what we had so far. We called it preliminary scenarios. We said that there was great uncertainty, and that we were also unsure whether it was right to publish them at that time. But we chose to make them available to others with all that uncertainty. What, on the other hand, was not so far from the estimates they now have in Denmark, are the figures for admissions, she said.