Learning from Denmark During COVID-19

March 22, 2021
Kevin Kunzmann

The small country's emphasis on accessible testing provided more up-to-date tracking, and opportunity for research into reinfection risk.

Perhaps more impressive than the comprehensive assessment from the Serum Statens Institut in Denmark that showed last week that COVID-19 reinfection risk was about 0.65% in its population last year, is the means by which the team was able to compile its data.

In the second segment of an interview with Contagion, study author Daniela Michlmayr, PhD, emphasized the value of Denmark’s emphasized COVID-19 testing strategy—a priority similar to other smaller countries that have fared better during the pandemic.

Michlmayr and colleagues were able to assess approximately 4 million PCR test results from COVID-19—equivalent to two thirds of Denmark’s population.

“Denmark has a really good testing strategy,” Michlmayr said. “In our study, we were also able to capture asymptomatic or mild cases. Often you’re not able to catch them in your cohorts—or what’s been published has only focused on healthcare workers.”

She went on to highlight her country’s avoidance of limitations and costs to testing access—decisions which have already contributed toward breakthrough research from herself and colleagues.

“I think Denmark has done a really good job compared to other nationals when compared to other nations when it comes to testing strategies,” Michlmayr said. “And it just shows that if you put that in place, we’re really able to learn a lot.”

Turning back to the matters of COVID-19 reinfection and achieved population immunity—whether it be by acquired protection and/or vaccination—Michlmayr highlighted her team’s past comparative research into previous outbreaks to understand how long safety could be assured from the current COVID-19 virus.

“It will be a hot topic for awhile, I suppose,” she said. “But our studies from MERS and SARS suggest that maybe it could be 1-2 years that we could hope to have immunity for.”