“There is a weakness in the strategy,” Eiliv Lund, emeritus professor at the University of Tromsø, told the VG newspaper. “If we had done what the Swedes have done, we would have had a higher infection rate, and thus a higher immunity.”
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health on Tuesday said in a briefing note that its research indicated that only 1% of Norwegians had been infected with coronavirus, underlining the impressive success of the country's measures in reducing the rate of infection.
But Lund, who is renowned for his research into cancer in women, argued this was a problem.
“The government had a lot of faith in this hard line of 'knocking down' the virus,” he told the newspaper. “It has been believed that if we can lock down for long enough it would disappear, but we cannot prevent it from coming in from the outside.
“Then you have to wait for a vaccine or a drug treatment, but if this doesn't come, it will be very costly for society. We are pushing the problem out in front of us.”
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Espen Rostrup Nakstad, the deputy head of Norwegian Directorate for Health, who has been the leading public spokesman for Norway's strategy, disagreed that the country had left itself more vulnerable to a second and third wave of infection.
He argued that as the total number of infected is reduced it will become easier to carry out contact tracing, so that each new outbreak can be quickly isolated and prevented from spreading.
“This control helps us to regain much of the activity in society while keeping the reproduction rate low,” he told VG. “However, vigilance and effort will still be required to deal with imported and local outbreaks domestically in the future.”