COPENHAGEN (Reuters) -Denmark is to offer a fourth coronavirus vaccination to vulnerable citizens as it faces record infection numbers from the Omicron variant, the country’s health minister said on Wednesday.
The move comes as lawmakers agreed to ease restrictions at the end of the week including the reopening of cinemas and music venues, as hospitalisation rates and deaths have stabilised despite the surge in cases.
“We are now embarking on a new chapter, namely a decision to offer the fourth jab to the most vulnerable citizens,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said.
The European Union’s drug regulator has expressed doubts about the need for a fourth dose and said there was currently no data to support this approach as it seeks more data on the fast-spreading variant.
Fellow EU member Hungary has said it is considering deploying a fourth shot. Chile and Israel have already begun a rollout.
Denmark saw a surge in daily infections in mid-December, prompting new restrictions including the closure of theatres, cinemas, entertainment parks and conference centres, as well as measures to limit large crowds in stores and shops.
However, even as infection rates remain near record levels above 20,000 a day, hospital admissions and deaths have stabilised at levels below those seen a year ago.
“We are not in a worst case scenario,” Heunicke told reporters. “We have the epidemic under control again. It’s a feat of strength by the entire society.”
Lawmakers agreed to reopen theatres, cinemas, museums, entertainment parks and botanic gardens, as well as allowing spectators at indoor and outdoor sports events, albeit with limiting attendance.
Denmark is helped by high support for COVID-19 vaccination, with four out of five having received two jabs and just over half of the population with three jabs.
Data from Denmark’s top infectious disease authority, Statens Serum Institut (SSI), show that unvaccinated people are five to six times more likely to be hospitalised after getting the virus compared with those vaccinated.
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