There is still some way to go before the COVID pandemic can be declared over in Denmark. The troubled EU procurement program has meant a stop-start delivery, and the health authorities have decided not to use two approved vaccines.
That said, notwithstanding the risks of new variants, the future looks bright for Denmark. The country is opening up, and those at high risk have been vaccinated, with all other adults to follow in the coming months.
Taking stock, Denmark’s performance has been impressive in both health and financial terms. Mortality rates are among the lowest in Europe and, although GDP fell in 2020, the drop was less steep than in many other countries.
And although some businesses were undoubtedly hit hard by temporary closures, multiple support schemes were put in place to limit the impact.
Secret of success
Some of the performance is pure chance. For example, Denmark is less reliant on tourism than most Southern European countries.
While other reasons are more structural and outlined here:
Swift action: The government responded quickly in closing down the country in mid-March 2020, and again in December. With a virus which grows exponentially, timing really is critical, and they moved swiftly rather than procrastinating as, for example, Boris Johnson did.
Fast to furlough: Businesses and trade unions are used to working together to reach quick and pragmatic agreements. With the support of the government, their agreement meant that Denmark was the first country in the world to adopt a furlough scheme.
Tests in their thousands: The Danish administrative system is strong on project management. Denmark leads the world in tests per capita. The country’s opening plan required regular negative tests, and hundreds of thousands have been obliging.
Digitally driven: Denmark has a strong internet infrastructure, and workers are used to working occasionally from home. This meant that many knowledge workers could slip automatically into working from home, without missing a beat.
Debt durability: Looking forward, some countries may be troubled by the huge debts they have had to take on through the crisis. Denmark will have no issues; it has one of the lowest national debts in the world and is one of only a handful of countries to retain an AAA rating. The debts taken on should therefore not impact Denmark going forward.
Overall, there will be twists and turns before this pandemic is over, but Denmark is well placed to bounce back quickly in the months and years ahead.