COVID-19 expert impressed by falling infection rate, but British mutation still a threat

PM echoes concern about new variants and insists an end to a lockdown is not likely for a while

Viggo Andreasen, a maths expert with a particular epidemiology focus at Roskilde University who the media often seek out for an analysis of the most recent COVID-19 figures in Denmark, is impressed by the recent slowdown.

“It is a really good development,” he told DR on Saturday about the recent daily infection figures. On Saturday, there were 879, and on Sunday 889, according to Statens Serum Institut.

Just a week before, the corresponding weekend figures were 1,743 and 1,246.

Shows we can beat British mutation
“We are down to a level of social contact that allows us to hope we can keep the B117 British variant from growing in Denmark,” he enthused.

“In addition to helping to ease the pressure off the hospitals, it also shows how we as a society have taken the right measures to stop the particularly contagious British corona mutation. We are down to a level of social contact that gives us hope we can keep B117 from growing in Denmark.”

Lowest positive rate for months
Andreasen had previously urged the authorities to lower the infection rate by 40 percent – and that is exactly what they have done this past week.

Furthermore, on Saturday there were a whopping 96,091 tests, which means the positive rate was 0.91 percent – below 1 percent for the first time since October 1.

Andreasen is hoping to see a further reduction in the rate next weekend.

British variant numbers stalling …
A total of 256 cases with B117, which is believed to be 70 percent more contagious than the common coronavirus, have now been detected  in Denmark. On January 13, there were 208, so numbers are edging up.

“We have good reason to believe that we have B117 under control, so that it does not start to grow in frequency and take over the disease picture,” said Andreasen.

But could easily rocket
However, he cautions that continuing the lockdown for the time being is crucial, as a situation like Ireland’s “sky-rocketing” in which cases quickly quadrupled could easily occur.

“If I was being pessimistic, I would say the recent figures have stabilised the situation, and that with regards to B117, we have not got it completely under control, but we have at least bought ourselves 7-14 days to assess whether we are fully in line with our restrictions,” he said.

PM: We need to keep on fighting
Ever the pessimist, PM Mette Frederiksen wrote on Facebook last night that while she found the new figures encouraging, she remained worried – most particularly about the British mutation.

“It doesn’t help that the police had to dissolve parties this weekend,” she said.

“To all those urging us to open up, I say: We risk losing control. We need to keep the infections down. We need to hold on and keep fighting.”