Denmark becomes first EU country to suspend Covid vaccination campaign

Health officials say the country is in a good position owing to high immunisation rates

Commuters at central railway station in Copenhagen, Denmark, after the removal of coronavirus restrictions. Bloomberg.

Denmark says it is suspending its widespread Covid-19 vaccination campaign after claiming that the epidemic was now under control.

The country in February lifted all curbs related to the coronavirus pandemic, with its Nordic neighbours Sweden and Norway closely following suit.

Officials at the Danish Health Authority said the country was in a "good position" because of high vaccination rates and acceptable levels of hospital admissions.

"Therefore we are winding down the mass vaccination programme against Covid-19," said Bolette Soborg, director of the authority's department of infectious diseases.

About 81 per cent of Denmark's 5.8 million inhabitants have received two doses of the vaccine and 61.6 per cent have also received a booster.

Denmark noted a drop in the number of new infections and stable rates of hospital admission.

While invitations for vaccinations will no longer be issued after May 15, health officials expect vaccinations to resume after the summer.

"We plan to reopen the vaccination programme in the autumn. This will be preceded by a thorough professional assessment of who and when to vaccinate and with which vaccines," Ms Soberg said.

As a wave of the Omicron variant hit the country last November, Denmark intensified its immunisation campaign, accelerating access to booster shots and from January offering a fourth dose to the most vulnerable.

A nurse administers a Covid-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccination centre at a supermarket in Ishoej, Denmark. AFP.

The European Commission is expected to say the EU has entered a new post-emergency phase of the pandemic in which testing should be targeted and monitoring of Covid-19 cases should be similar to sample-based flu surveillance, according to media reports.

The shift comes during a gradual drop of case numbers and the immunisation of more thaqn 70 per cent of the EU population, with half of the population also having received a booster shot.

"This communication puts forward an approach for the management of the pandemic in the coming months, moving from emergency to a more sustainable mode," an EU draft document says.

The World Health Organisation is in charge of declaring a pandemic and the end of it, a move that has vast legal implications for a variety of sectors, including insurers and vaccine makers. The UN agency says the pandemic is not over.

The EU document is non-binding and comes with clear warnings that "Covid-19 is here to stay", probably with the emergence of new variants, and therefore "vigilance and preparedness remain essential".

The draft document, prepared by Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and expected to be adopted on Wednesday, says that new surges are possible and recommends EU governments to keep up their guard and be ready to return to emergency measures if needed.

Updated: April 27, 2022, 9:11 AM
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