More than one-fifth of the new, more contagious delta variant of coronavirus has been found in vaccinated Danes issued a so-called “corona pass”, the State Serum Institute (SSI) has warned.
22 percent of those infected with the delta variant had a valid corona pass after the first shot when they were found infected.
“The first tests we did of the vaccine showed that they protected well after the first jab. These were the studies that led to the vaccine being approved. Now we have a dominance with delta virus, and there we have a poorer protection,” SSI department head Palle Valentiner-Branth told Danish Radio.
According to SSI's latest estimate, the delta variant accounts for up to 91.2 percent of those newly infected with coronavirus, making this strain the most dominant in Denmark.
However, despite the apparently poorer protection, Palle Valentiner-Branth emphasised that even a single shot can still contribute to a milder experience with the disease if one should become infected.
“You will probably be infected to a lower degree than if you were unvaccinated, and you will not be as ill,” he said.
Jørgen Eskild Petersen, a professor at the Department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University, calls it “worrying” that people can still go out and use their corona pass, even though they may be infected with the delta variant. To rectify this, he proposed only handing out corona passports after the second shot.
“It is not the vaccines that have changed since they were introduced, but it is simply a new virus that is less sensitive to the immunity that the vaccines provide,” he underscored.
He cited a major study from England, which showed that both AstraZeneca and Pfizer only gave a 30-percent protection after a single shot, calling it unreasonable to grant corona passports after only a single shot.
However, Danish parties from both left and right were against changing the rules.
Liselott Blixt, health spokesperson for the national-conservative Danish People's Party, argued it was too late to change the rules now and instead urged people themselves to take responsibility.
“Keep your distance and make sure you maintain good hygiene. People are already confused enough and we are tired of hearing about corona. If we change that now, then I think we're losing people,” she mused.
The Socialist People's Party urged Danes to listen to the SSI and the National Board of Health, in which it has full confidence.
Palle Valentiner-Branth cautioned fellow Danes that they can still become infected with only one shot and urged them to become fully vaccinated at the first opportunity.
“When you are fully vaccinated, we rarely see that you get a breakthrough infection,” Palle Valentiner-Branth said, citing figures from the SSI, according to which only 0.1 percent of fully vaccinated people have been found infected with COVID-19.
As of now, the corona pass becomes valid 14 days after the first vaccine shot. A valid passport can also be obtained after previously becoming infected or producing a negative PCR or antigen test.
Denmark has fully vaccinated 50.9 percent of its population. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, it has seen 312,000 cases, with some 2,500 fatalities.