Norwegian Vaccine Researcher Says Pandemic 'Over for Most', Health Authorities Beg to Differ
According to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the novel Omicron strain only causes around a third or half as serious a disease as the previously dominant Delta strain. At the same time, Omicron is seen as more infectious than predecessors and may result in a significant wave, encumbering the health service, the authorities have warned.
Fully vaccinated people shouldn't be particularly worried about infection, immunologist and vaccine researcher Gunnveig Grødeland at the University of Oslo has ventured, suggesting that the COVID-19 pandemic is effectively over for the majority of the country's population which has had their two shots and are in the process of getting boosters.
"For most people, the pandemic is over", Grødeland told national broadcaster NRK, calling on the health authorities to ease the measures in place to contain the spread of the virus.
Grødeland is optimistic and thinks it is not long before peak infection is reached. In the next few months, with more infected and vaccinated, an increased protection among the population will be formed, she ventured. Vaccination yields extra protection, she reiterated.
"For the fully vaccinated, infection will be associated with very little risk. At the same time, if we get a lot of infection in society and an overload of the healthcare system…then it will affect the rest of us as well. But on average, fully vaccinated people don't have to be so worried about infection", Grødeland told NRK.
However, the Norwegian Directorate of Health pointed out that too many infected people could exhaust the capacity of the health service, which is already running in overdrive.
The same thought was echoed by Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, who explicitly disagreed with Grødeland and said that infections were likely to increase sharply.
"If it is half as dangerous, but twice as infectious, then we can get very many sick at the same time, many of them seriously. Then we get a problem in the healthcare system. And it affects us all. And then we must take into account high sickness absence that can affect important parts of society", Støre told NRK.
Earlier this week, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) stated "with a high degree of probability" that the novel Omicron strain only causes around a third or half as serious a disease as the previously dominant Delta strain. At the same time, Omicron is seen as more infectious than its predecessors. The FHI therefore expects a significant wave of infections in the coming weeks and a significant burden on the health service.
The same week, a record in daily case count was set with over 8,000 confirmed cases. FHI technical director Frode Forland said he expected the infection wave to reach its peak at the end of January.
22 December 2021, 05:43 GMT