- Sputnik International, 1920
Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

Denmark First EU Country to Authorise Anti-COVID Pill Amid Record Spread

© REUTERS / MERCK & CO INCA handout photo of an experimental COVID-19 treatment pill, called molnupiravir and being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP
A handout photo of an experimental COVID-19 treatment pill, called molnupiravir and being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.12.2021
Despite disappointing trial results, which reduced the rate of hospitalisation and death for at-risk patients by 30 percent instead of the 50 percent promised before, the Danish health authorities remains convinced that the benefits of the molnupiravir pill outweigh the risks, especially as the country continues to break infection records.
Denmark has become the first EU country to use the US drugmaker Merck's anti-COVID pill molnupiravir to treat at-risk patients with symptoms.
The pill-based treatment, marketed under the name Lagevrio, was backed for emergency use by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in mid-November, allowing individual EU countries to decide for themselves whether to use the pills even before they were formally authorised.
Lagevrio has since been approved since November in the UK and is in the process of being approved in the US.

We are recommending the pill treatment because we believe that the benefits outweigh the harms for those patients who are most at risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19,” Kirstine Moll Harboe at the Danish Health Authority said in a statement. At the same time she said that the authorities were fully aware that the treatment was new and lacked knowledge about it.

Moll Harboe pledged that the effects and the side effects of the treatment would be closely monitored.
However, the full results of the clinical trial released on 26 November by Merck were somewhat disappointing as they showed a much lower efficacy than earlier reports based on interim data. According to the preliminary results, the drug reduced the rate of hospitalisation and death for at-risk patients who took it shortly after infection by 30 percent, compared with the 50 percent stated before.
FILE PHOTO: The National Institute of Public Health's new app Smittestopp (Infection Stop) for infection tracking is pictured, in Oslo, Norway April 16, 2020. Picture taken April 16, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.12.2021
Omicron COVID Strain
Nordics Knocked Down by Record COVID-19 Infection, Hospitalisation Rates
Denmark is currently suffering from a record wave of COVID-19 cases and an outbreak of the new Omicron strain, expected to become the dominant strain in the Danish capital already this week.
Also this week, every single day, a new daily infection record has been set, the State Serum Institute reported. On Thursday, a record 9,999 new cases were reported in a nation of 5.8 million. The previous record, set 24 hours earlier, was 8,773 new cases.
As of now, 517 COVID-19 patients are currently in hospital throughout Denmark, 61 of them in intensive care, which is the highest number since the previous peak of infection in February.
“We hope that the treatment will help reduce the number of hospital admissions for patients at high risk of severe disease,” Moll Harboe said.
Addressing the situation on Facebook, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen wrote that infection levels are “unfortunately as expected, very, very high”. She also said hat she “is in no doubt” that new measures will be necessary to break transmission chains. Last but not least, she urged her fellow Danes to get a booster shot as soon as possible.
At the moment, Denmark has a vaccination level of 77.1 percent, the highest in Scandinavia, and is in the process of administering third shots to the population.
Previously, there have been speculations that the Omicron strain is less susceptible to vaccines. A fresh Norwegian report indicated that of those who got sick at a notorious Christmas party at Louise restaurant thrown by the renewable power company Scatec, which was subsequently dubbed a superspreader event as over 140 people got infected, most of the with the Omicron strain, wholly 98 percent were fully vaccinated, national broadcaster NRK reported.
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