COPENHAGEN, June 22 (Xinhua) -- Denmark plans to offer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose this autumn to almost 2.5 million people residing in nursing homes or aged over 50, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Wednesday.
The new vaccine plan, part of the latest strategy to combat the rising coronavirus cases, will start on Sept. 15 with the elderly and vulnerable, and become applicable on Oct. 1 for all citizens aged over 50, Frederiksen said at a press conference.
"We have a new Omicron subvariant spreading rapidly in Europe and here in Denmark. The infection has been on the rise for the past three weeks. It has happened earlier than expected, and when it happens, we have to act as we do now," he said.
People under 50 who are especially vulnerable and at high risk for a severe illness course will also be eligible for a fourth dose.
The prime minister elaborated on the four primary objectives of the new strategy: caring for the elderly and vulnerable, avoiding overcrowding hospitals, maintaining economic growth, and avoiding shutdowns and restrictions.
According to a weekly trend report by the Statens Serum Institut (SSI) on June 16, the new Omicron subvariant BA.5 accounted for approximately 29 percent of all new infections in week 23.
Furthermore, those aged between 50 and 69 had the highest infection rate, while those in the 70 to 89 age group had the highest number of new hospital admissions.
Director General of the Danish Health Authority Soren Brostrom acknowledged that the current planning is based on the expectation of a corona wave this winter.
However, the goal of revaccination against COVID-19 in Denmark will not be to prevent infection spread, but rather to prevent serious illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths, according to Brostrom.
"One of the things we have learned from the new variants is that the vaccines are not very good at preventing infection. But they are especially good for preventing serious illness," said Brostrom in the press conference.
By June 20, Denmark had reported 3,155,972 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,432 coronavirus-related deaths. ■