Typical misinformation regarding Danish COVID-numbers

Much misinformation and misunderstandings exist regarding Danish COVID-19 numbers. On this page, we answer some of the most typical ones.

The COVID-19 pandemic has since its beginning been unpredictable in many ways. The SARS-CoV-2 virus mutates, and health authorities worldwide have continuously had to change their strategies e.g. regarding surveillance and treatment of the disease.

This also means that our data and our knowledge about the disease changes. Unfortunately, this leads to misunderstandings and misinterpretations regarding Danish COVID-19 numbers, which are shared through the media in general and social media in particular.

Below, we have collected and answered some of the more typical pieces of misinformation and misunderstandings. However, since the pandemic, and our data and knowledge change, so will this page. The information on this page is in other words snapshots of the Danish numbers and of COVID-19 in Denmark.

Please note: The information and numbers on this page were updated on 22 March 2022.

Misinformation: Extremely many people are hospitalised because of COVID-19 in Denmark.

Updated 22 March
Answer: This is incorrect.

As of Week 10, 2022 a total of 1,748 COVID-19-positive persons had been hospitalised compared with 80,651 PCR confirmed COVID-19 cases. This is a decrease in both figures since Week 5. The proportion of COVID-19-positive persons hospitalised because of COVID-19 has decreased since July 2021 relative to the number of persons hospitalised with COVID-19. The share of persons hospitalised because of COVID-19 according to last available data (from Week 8) is now 48% of COVID-19 admitted positive persons.

Note: Hospitalised because of COVID-19 means that a person is admitted to hospital because of COVID-19. Hospitalised with COVID-19 means that a person is hospitalised and has a positive PCR-test. It does not mean that the person is admitted to hospital because of COVID-19.

Misinformation: Extremely many people die because of COVID-19 in Denmark.

Updated 22 March
Answer: This is incorrect.

In Denmark, the number of deaths from COVID-19 was, from the beginning of the epidemic, counted as the number of people dying within 30 days of a positive SARS-CoV-2 test. Although this test statistic is imprecise, for a long time it was not far from the true number of persons dying from COVID-19 (~90%).

However, with the common spread of the Omicron variant that causes less mortality than previous variants in a well-vaccinated population, there is an increasing number of SARS-CoV-2-infected persons who die from other causes relative to those who die from COVID-19. In fact, it is now more like 30-40% of COVID-19 positive deaths that are caused by other factors than COVID-19. And excess mortality is decreasing. 

For more information about the mortality rate, please visit this Danish article

About surveillance of mortality related to COVID-19 in Denmark.

Misinformation: The mortality rate is rising in Denmark.

Updated 22 March
Answer: This is incorrect.

During the last months of 2021, Denmark saw a higher number of deaths than expected in persons older than 75 years of age, which is anticipated to be caused by the Delta variant.

However, as from Week 1, 2022, the observed mortality relative to the expected mortality has decreased in Denmark, although it has fluctuated a bit from week to week.

For more information about the mortality rate, please visit this Danish page about moratlity.

About surveillance of mortality related to COVID-19 in Denmark.

Misinformation: The admission rates for infants and children are extremely high because of COVID-19.

Updated 22 March
Answer: The admission rates for infants and young children <2 years of age are higher than those of older children and adolescents (3-19 years of age), but is still very low – by Week 12 a total of 1,952 hospitalisations were recorded among 53,240 COVID-19-positive children aged 0-2 years (4%).

Most of these children are registered as having been attended in an emergency department due to respiratory symptoms, but were sent home shortly after being seen, mostly within 12 hours after their arrival, as the children were not considered ill enough by the paediatricians that they required to be hospitalised for their COVID-19.

Misinformation: All children become very sick because of COVID-19.

Updated 22 March
Answer: This is incorrect.

Most children experience no or very mild symptoms when infected with COVID-19. Compared with older persons, COVID-19 in children is generally a very mild disease.

The Danish hospitalisation rates among children mostly reflect that hospitalised children stay in an emergency department for less than 12 hours, before being discharged to their homes (also see the answer above regarding hospitalisation rates for infants and children). In very rare cases (1 of 4,100 children in Denmark), children may develop ‘Multi-inflammatory syndrome in children’ (MIS-C), a severe condition that reflects the immune system’s reaction to COVID-19.

Misinformation: The psychiatric wards are filling up with COVID-19-patients, e.g. because Denmark has reduced the number of ICU beds.

Updated 22 March
Answer: This is incorrect.

Any patient in Denmark who is in need of intensive care treatment is referred to an intensive care unit (ICU). Because of the flexibility of the Danish hospital system, Denmark has – at any given time during the pandemic – had enough ICU beds, because other wards were converted into temporary ICUs.

The increasing number of COVID-19 positive persons in psychiatric wards reflects the increasing number of persons in Denmark, who have been infected with the Omicron variant which results in milder disease compared with previous variants.

Additionally, a very high share of the Danish population has been vaccinated against COVID-19 which largely protects against severe disease. For the same reasons, psychiatric patients – like the rest of the Danish population – presently experience higher rates of COVID-19. But COVID-19-positive psychiatric patients only remain in psychiatric wards if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 that need to be treated with admission to a somatic hospital ward or an ICU. In conclusion: The psychiatric wards see an increasing number of COVID-19 patients due to the general increase in the number of COVID-19-infected persons in Denmark but these patients do not need admission to a somatic ward.

Misinformation: The criteria for admission to ICU has changed in late December 2021.

Updated 22 March
Answer: No. There has been no change in ICU admission criteria at any point in time during the pandemic.

The number of patients admitted to Danish ICUs has decreased for many months. At present, the weekly number of newly COVID-19-infected patients in Danish ICUs has decreased from 47 persons in Week 51, 2021, to 16 persons in Week 10, 2022. This only reflects that the Omicron variant, which is dominant in Denmark, causes milder disease than the previous variants and that a very large share of the Danish population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, which largely protects against severe disease.

Since the emergence of the pandemic, the health system has learned extremely much about the disease, and treatment has improved markedly. This includes better options for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in non-ICU hospital wards.

Therefore, the need for ICU treatment in Denmark has been reduced throughout the epidemic. But the access to ICU wards for COVID-19 patient, who needs this treatment and cannot be sufficiently treated in non-ICU wards, is unchanged in Denmark.

Misinformation: That ICU numbers are dropping in Denmark is misleading – because instead of hospital ICUs, Denmark is relying on long-term care nursing home facilities. And the numbers there are going up.

Updated 22 March
Answer: This is incorrect.

Anyone who is in need of an ICU is referred to one. Long-term care nursing facilities are not in any way and have not been used as replacements for ICUs.

The decreasing number of COVID-19-positive patients in Danish ICUs reflects that the dominant variant in Denmark, the Omicron variant, results in milder disease than previous variants and that a very high share of the Danish population has been vaccinated against COVID-19 which largely protects against severe disease.

Misinformation: Denmark has decided that COVID-19 does not exist anymore.

Updated 22 March
Answer: This is incorrect.

COVID-19 absolutely exists, but it is no longer considered ‘an infection critical to society’. This is because the Omicron variant results in milder disease than the previous variants, and a very high share of the Danish population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, which largely protects against severe disease.

Therefore, COVID-19 does not have the same impact on society and the population as earlier in the pandemic. Therefore, most restrictions have been lifted, but the Danish authorities fully acknowledge the presence of COVID-19. Thousands of people are still being tested for COVID-19 every day, and the Danish authorities closely follow the situation in Denmark and internationally.

Misinformation: COVID-19 is not considered a threat to society because Denmark has decided that people who fall seriously ill are not an important part of society.

Updated 22 March
Answer: This is incorrect.

Every person is important in Denmark. Anyone falling seriously ill has been treated by the best of international standards throughout the pandemic and still are. COVID-19 is not considered as the same threat to society as it was previously because the Omicron variant generally results in milder disease than previous variants did and a very high share of the Danish population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, which largely protects against severe disease.

 

Useful links

Reports

Report on breakthrough infections and vaccine efficiency.

Report the latest COVID-19 tendencies in Denmark.

Results of the national surveillance of Danish wastewater.

Mortality

Surveillance of the mortality rate in Denmark.

About surveillance of mortality related to COVID-19 in Denmark.

Dashboards

COVID-19 dashboards

Please note that hospitalisations and deaths because of COVID-19 can be found in the report about tendencies. The numbers provided on the dashboard are just hospitalised and deaceased persons, who had a positive PCR-test a number of days before their hospitalisation/death.

A glossary explaining the Danish terms used on the dashboards can be found here under ‘Dashboards about COVID-19’.