Covid-19 in Norway can now be compared to the flu thanks to vaccines, says health chief
Coronavirus can now be categorised as one of several respiratory illnesses with seasonal variation thanks to the success of the country's vaccination campaign, Geir Bukholm, infection control director of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), has said.
For the past year and a half, Covid-19 has been classed as a generally dangerous disease. However, this could change soon as the assistant director of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), Geir Bukholm, has said the coronavirus can now be put in the same category as illnesses such as flu, common colds and RS (respiratory syncytial virus).
“We are now in a new phase where we must look at the coronavirus as one of several respiratory diseases with seasonal variation,” Bukholm told paper VG.
Last week the Ministry of Health and Social Care asked the NIPH to assess whether Covid-19 was still a dangerous disease.
While the NIPH has yet to return its findings, its assistant director has made it clear that the danger of Covid will be downgraded.
Covid could now be compared in severity with the likes of colds and flu because the vast majority of those at most risk of developing severe disease when infected are now fully vaccinated.
“This is because the vast majority of those at risk are protected,” Bukholm explained.
"And although the infection is still circulating, hospital numbers remain low. Thus, the coronavirus will not lead to a heavy burden on the health service. For those vaccinated who may become infected and develop symptoms, the vast majority will have mild cold-like symptoms."
However, Bukholm did warn that even though Covid could now be compared with other common respiratory illnesses, the pandemic was far from over.
“The pandemic is not over as long as it exists in the world and in countries where the vaccine coverage is still low. As long as the diseases spread throughout the world, there is still a pandemic,” Bukholm cautioned.
Last week health minister Bent Høie offered a glimpse at what Norway would look like once measures were lifted but didn’t offer a date for when restrictions would be lifted.