Covid-19: Danish authorities ’not concerned’ after new subvariant detected

A new subvariant of Covid-19 has been detected in Denmark. Health authorities say they are monitoring the situation.

Covid-19: Danish authorities ’not concerned’ after new subvariant detected
Danish health minister Magnus Heunicke during a briefing on Denmark's autumn 2022 Covid-19 vaccination strategy earlier this month. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

The new variant was first detected in India around three months ago and has now been detected in Denmark for the first time with two confirmed cases, news wire Ritzau reports.

Health Minister Magnus Heunicke confirmed the variant had been found in Denmark in a Twitter post on Saturday.

The variant, BJ.1, is a subvariant of the existing Omicron form of the coronavirus and was first registered in India on July 2nd. It has since been detected in four other countries.

“Two cases of the new Covid-19 subvariant BJ.1 have been found in Denmark,” Heunicke wrote.

“It is completely expected that BJ.1 would appear in Denmark and the State Serum Institute [national infectious disease control agency, ed.] is not currently concerned but is following the situation closely,” he said.

It is currently unclear whether BJ.1, also termed BA.2.10.1, can be expected to cause more serious symptoms than the current dominant form of Omicron.

“BJ.1 has more mutations to the spike protein than subvariants of the dominant BA.5, but the importance of these mutations is not known for certain,” Heunicke wrote.

The most recent infection trends report, issued last week by the State Serum Institute, stated that infection numbers in people aged 60 and over had increased during the preceding week. Infection numbers have been otherwise stable in all age groups in recent weeks.

Denmark currently only recommends a PCR test for Covid-19 for people at risk of serious illness who suspect they have the virus.

Last week’s infection trends report noted that BJ.1 was yet to be detected in Denmark.

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Covid-19: Denmark begins autumn vaccination programme

An increase in the number of Covid-19 cases has been registered in Denmark after three consecutive weeks in which infections trended downwards. The country began its autumn vaccination programme on Thursday.

Covid-19: Denmark begins autumn vaccination programme

This week’s trend report from the national infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute (SSI) shows 5,428 new cases of Covid-19 were detected last week.

Two weeks ago, 4,948 new cases were registered. The test positivity rate was 12.7 percent and 13.8 percent respectively during the two weeks.

These numbers are still some way lower than infections at the beginning of August. 10,334 cases were detected in the first week of last month. The test positivity rate was 24.7 percent.

Denmark currently only advises PCR tests for people at risk of serious illness with Covid-19.

Two age groups – 0-19 years and 30-39 years – still have declining infection rates despite the overall increase.

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 also increased last week for the first time in three weeks.

The weekly report is released as Denmark launches its autumn vaccination programme against Covid-19.

From Thursday September 15th, care home residents and people aged 85 and over will be invited for a booster vaccine.

From October 1st, everyone aged 50 and over will be offered vaccination.

Other groups for which vaccination is recommended include those who are pregnant, work in the health and elderly care sectors, or are at heightened risk of serious illness.

These groups will not be automatically offered a booster: they will receive information from their workplaces or must contact health services independently to check eligibility and arrange a vaccination. This can be done via the and Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) websites.

The deputy director of the Danish Health Authority, Helene Bilsted Probst, said earlier this week that timely vaccination was important in reducing the likelihood of serious illness.

“So we need to get started so we can keep ahead of the virus,” she said.

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