January 4, 2022 - 10:00am

Sweden is currently experiencing the smallest wave of Omicron Covid infections of any of its Scandinavian neighbours. At a rolling average of under 500 cases per million, it is less than Norway (700), Finland (1100) and Denmark (3000). Daily Covid deaths are under 0.5 per million — half that of Norway and a third of Finland or Denmark.

Cases have surged in Denmark due to the Omicron variant

In an interview today with Svenska Dagbladet, Professor Lone Simonsen of Rosklide University in Denmark said it is not yet clear what explains the difference:

Norway and Denmark opened up earlier than Sweden. It may be that Sweden is just in another point in the pandemic.  But I have wondered if their early strategy in the spring of 2020, which led to more immunity than here, could be of help there now in addition to the vaccine.
- Prof. Lone Simonsen, Rosklide University

The Danish wave has been the most dramatic so far, but health chiefs there are expressing confidence that the milder nature of the Omicron variant will mean that normal life can resume shortly.

Sweden’s death rate is currently less than half its neighbours

Tyra Grove Krause, Chief Epidemiologist at the national disease centre “SSI”, told Danish TV2 that the risk of ending up in hospital is half that of previous variants, and that the peak would come later in January.

Lone Simonsen agrees that Denmark will soon be through the worst and that many Danes will not even know they are infected. She is confident that there will not be significant excess mortality:

In South Africa have seen a huge spread of infection combined with very low excess mortality. It looks like Omicron is much milder than previous virus mutations. And we have seen data from Canada, Scotland and London that point to the same thing, in populations that are more similar to the Swedish or Danish with a high vaccination rate and older population.
- Prof. Lone Simonsen, Rosklide University