Covid live: Germany sets second consecutive daily record for new cases; US vaccine

A leading epidemiologist in Denmark has said the pandemic will effectively be “over” in her country by next spring as sufficient people will have been either vaccinated or have acquired immunity through infection, writes Philip Oltermann, the Guardian’s Berlin bureau chief.

“As the epidemic progresses we will likely reach herd immunity by spring, because by then more than nine out of ten people will be immune”, said Lone Simonsen, professor of epidemiology at Roskilde University. “That’s when the pandemic is over, at least here with us”.

Simonsen also warned German news magazine Der Spiegel the situation would change if a new variant managed to break through vaccination.

Denmark has one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe, with around 95% of people over 50 considered fully vaccinated. Some 77% of the overall population in the Scandinavian country has got the jab.

While the rate of new infections has again started to climb steeply over the last week, Simonsen said she was not particularly concerned. “We may now be seeing a rapid rise in infections, but not a strong rise in serious illnesses and deaths”.

The Danish government has lifted mask-wearing and social distancing requirements, and unlike in many other European states people are not required to show proof of vaccination before entering cultural establishments like nightclubs.

“This pandemic now has a completely different character, it is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Simonsen said.

“It is no longer a threat to society as a whole. We now allow it to run its course, even if that will cause local outbreaks. These will no longer be as deadly as they were before the introduction of vaccines”.

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