Given the spike in COVID-19 cases due to the new, more contagious Delta strain, Norway’s health authorities have warned of a coming increase in hospital admissions, even among fully vaccinated Norwegians. Still, the message is that the vaccines provide robust protection, especially to the elderly and at-risk groups.
So far, 1,137 fully vaccinated Norwegians have been diagnosed with coronavirus. Of these, 35 people have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19 symptoms of various severity. 29 of these are in risk groups with a high or moderate risk of a serious course, the recent report by the Norwegian Public Health Institute (FHI) has said.
“We expect that in the future there will be more fully vaccinated people admitted to hospital, because the number of fully vaccinated will increase in the weeks ahead. For the time being, we see that the number of inpatients is low, but we believe it will increase in the weeks ahead,” FHI department director Line Vold told national broadcaster NRK.
In weeks 30 and 31, 418 or 8 percent of Norway’s 5,215 new COVID-19 cases were fully vaccinated. The share of the vaccinated ones is rising steadily and will continue to increase, FHI has warned.
As of now, the more contagious Delta strain has become the dominant one in Norway, accounting for 98 percent of confirmed cases, at a time when the number of cases reached its peak since February. Recent FHI reports also indicate a rise in hospital admissions.
© AFP 2021 / PHILIP DAVALI
Overall, the FHI described the incidence of hospital and intensive care admissions and deaths as “relatively low”, which Vold ascribed to vaccine protection for the elderly and at-risk groups.
Despite the anticipated spike, the FHI believes that the incoming wave won’t reach the same scope as the previous ones that sparked national lockdowns and extensive social distancing measures, due to the fact that vaccines provide for a milder course of the disease.
The rising number of infections notwithstanding, the Norwegian health authorities plan to lift some of the remaining restrictions starting from the end of September. Health Minister Bent Høie went so far as to pledge that life will largely “return to normal”, luring fellow Norwegians with the possibility of “dancing tightly” and “going on one-night stands again”. Still he mentioned an underlying uncertainty in the big picture.
To date, Norway, a nation of 5.3 million, has seen 142,000 COVID-19 cases, while having vaccinated 39 percent of its population.