The coronavirus, The Indian virus variant | Experts dispute whether Norway will withstand the delta virus

While the UK is heading into a new wave of infections, Norwegian experts are unsure whether Norway will follow suit or ride out the storm.


The Indian mutant is dominant in the UK and casts long shadows over the planned reopening this summer. The same variant is expected to become dominant in Norway, but whether it will have consequences for our reopening, scholars argue.

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– It is still a bit unclear how worried you should be. Preliminary data from Denmark are quite reassuring. From England, we see that the variant quickly became dominant, and it seems to give a somewhat greater risk of hospitalization, says chief physician Preben Aavitsland to Nettavisen.

Read also: NIPH and the Prime Minister: The pandemic is not over in Norway

Despite the fact that more people have been vaccinated in the UK, the country is preparing for a new wave of infections with a virus that is 40 percent more contagious than the previous one.

Professor Steinar Westin at NTNU in Trondheim believes that Norway will also have a new wave of infections with the delta virus. Professor Bjørg Marit Andersen, for his part, believes that Norway is now equipped to avoid such a wave.



48 cases in Norway

The Delta variant was first discovered in India in October. British media write that it is 30 to 100 percent more contagious than the British Alpha variant.

The British Minister of Health, Matt Hancock, tells Sky News / The Guardian that the variant is probably 40 percent more contagious. He points out that the vaccines protect just as well against this virus as against the alpha variant.

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In Norway, up to and including Monday, 48 cases of the delta variant were registered. On Monday, St. Olav’s hospital reported twelve cases of the delta variant in Trondheim. The samples were taken before the weekend.

– It is distributed over four infection clusters, which have no direct connection to each other. Two of the clusters are well demarcated, while in the other two there are people in the clusters who have been socially active, said municipal chief physician Elizabeth Kimbell before the weekend to Adresseavisen.

– We are following closely and believe that the delta variant will eventually take over here as well, but we expect to keep the epidemic under control anyway, says Aavitsland.

– Very bad news

Steinar Westin is a professor of social medicine at the Department of Community Medicine at NTNU in Trondheim. He points out that in Norway it was thought possible to keep the British virus away, when Nordre Follo broke out in December. Six months later, the British alpha variant is the new “normal virus” with almost 30,000 registered cases.

– A more contagious variant is very bad news. In Norway, we have been very good at local infection detection, and the National Institute of Public Health has another idea that we can keep this virus away, but see what happened to the British variant. Now it has become the new normal.

Westin has previously commented on childhood infections: Professor: – Childhood infections are underestimated

The Westin says that the delta virus has especially spread among children and young people in England. He fears that the virus will now create a wave among young people in Norway as well.

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– Children and young people have been seen as unaffected by the disease, but they are wrong. A small proportion can become ill and have long-term ailments such as impaired sense of taste and smell. We have poor data on how many children and young people get such ailments, says Westin and points out that even a small proportion can in total lead to a relatively large number of children and young people who are affected.

– Good reason to believe that things are going well

Bjørg Marit Andersen, who is a professor of hygiene and infection control and former chief infection control doctor at Oslo University Hospital Ullevål, on the other hand, believes that Norway is far better equipped now than we were in December when the British alpha variant came to Norway.

Andersen also warns against the reopening of society: Professor: The reopening is not justifiable – danger of the fourth wave of infection

The main difference is that Norwegians have now started to use face masks to a much greater extent, and that a distance of two meters has become more common.

– Both national and international health authorities have now begun to understand that this is an airborne virus and have introduced more drastic measures to stop it. As long as people continue to wear face masks and keep two meters away, I think this is going well, says Andersen.

She says that Norway also gets help from the sun and summer.

– The virus does not tolerate temperatures above 25 degrees. When we have sun and good weather, and are outdoors a lot, the spread is reduced, she says.

While the United Kingdom is preparing for a third wave of infections, Norway is more positive about opening up society.

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Different vaccines

The Guardian writes on Tuesday that the virus has doubled the number of patients every eight days. The newspaper also refers to this study from the Francis Crick Institute, which states that the Pfeizer vaccine may lose its strength in defense against the delta virus among the elderly who took the vaccine several months ago.

The Delta variant was first discovered in India in October. British media write that it is 30 to 100 percent more contagious than the British Alpha variant.

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The British Minister of Health, Matt Hancock, tells Sky News / The Guardian that the variant is probably 40 percent more contagious. He points out that the vaccines protect just as well against this virus as against the Alpha variant.

In relation to the population, more people are infected in the UK than in Norway. According to Worldometer, there are now 78 new cases per 1 million inhabitants in the UK, while in Norway there are 23 new cases per million inhabitants.

– Do Pfeizer and Moderna (vaccine used in Norway) work better on this virus than AstraZeneca (used in England)?

– Yes, even against this variant, two doses of mRNA vaccines provide better protection than two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, says Aavitsland.

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