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How Denmark, Norway and Sweden got their pre-pandemic lives back

Denmark lifted all restrictions in mid-September. Did Denmark eradicate COVID? Of course not. There are 500 to 700 new cases a day and 0 to 3 deaths every day. 

Denmark started vaccinating against COVID-19 on December 27, 2020. Vaccination in Denmark is free of cost and voluntary. It is available to all residents of Denmark and those from abroad staying for more than 30 days in Denmark. 

Denmark has one of the highest levels of COVID-19 vaccination in the European Union as of the end of September 2021 – 75% fully vaccinated and 77% with one dose. 

Norway lifted all COVID-related restrictions at the end of September. Did Norway eradicate COVID? Of course not. There are 300 to 400 new cases a day and 0 to 2 deaths every day. Vaccination in Norway is free of cost and voluntary. 

Norway is closely monitoring side effects, with both reports from healthcare professionals and the public being registered in a common database. Norway has one of the highest levels of COVID-19 vaccination in the European Union as of the end of September 2021 – 69% fully vaccinated and 78% with one dose.

Sweden ended all COVID-related restrictions at the end of September. Did Sweden eradicate COVID? Of course not. There are 600 to 1,000 new cases a day and 0 to 20 deaths every day. Sweden has not imposed a lockdown, unlike many other countries, and kept large parts of its society open. 

Vaccine hesitancy is one of the major challenges to the COVID-19 vaccination program in Sweden, with 26% of Swedes saying that they do not want to be vaccinated in a poll in January 2021. 

Another poll conducted in May 2021, however, shows that around nine of ten Swedes are willing to get vaccinated, with foreign-born Swedes being less inclined. Sweden has one of the highest levels of COVID-19 vaccination in the European Union as of the end of September 2021 – 67% fully vaccinated and 70% with one dose.

75% fully vaccinated in Denmark, 69% fully vaccinated in Norway, and 67% fully vaccinated in Sweden. At the moment, 25% of the country’s population is fully vaccinated. If every one of this 25% convinces just one other person to get vaccinated this month of October, we will have half of the population fully vaccinated by end of November. 

Vaccination is how this pandemic ends. So, do we want to be like Denmark, Norway, or Sweden? We know what these countries did. We have vaccine doses. It’s up to us to go get vaccinated and encourage our friends and families to get vaccinated too. We can do it – or we can just wait and wait… and wait… while more countries are getting their pre-pandemic lives back.* 

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Dr. Melvin Sanicas (@Vaccinologist) is a physician-scientist specializing in vaccines, infectious diseases, and global health. 

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