Denmark has become the first country in the world to suspend its COVID vaccination program.
The country has cited its high vaccination rate, a reduction in the number of new infections and stable hospitalization rates as reasons for the move.
The decision means that invitations for vaccinations will no longer be issued after May 15, but health officials in the country expect that vaccinations will resume after the summer.
Denmark’s chief physician, Bolette Soborg, said: “We plan to reopen the vaccination program in the autumn. This will be preceded by a thorough professional assessment of who and when to vaccinate and with which vaccines.”
Professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Martin McKee, told Newsweek: “It’s important to be clear that Denmark is not halting vaccination. People who haven’t finished their courses will still be able to get doses.
“Also it’s seen as a pause over the summer, with an expectation that it will resume in the fall.”
As Newsweek previously reported Denmark made headlines in February when it became the first country in the European Union to lift all of its COVID restrictions.
The move meant that citizens of Denmark were no longer required to wear face masks in indoor spaces with COVID passes for bars and restaurants and the need for self-isolation following a positive test result also ended.
The Justification for this move was also high vaccination rates in the country.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in a press conference in February: “The pandemic is still here but with what we know, we now dare to believe that we are through the critical phase.”
AP reported that Frederiksen told Danish radio: “I dare not say that it is a final goodbye to restrictions. We do not know what will happen in the fall, whether there will be a new variant.”
According to the New York Times COVID tracker, Denmark currently has 82 percent of its population fully vaccinated. In addition to this 62 percent of the population has received a booster dose of a COVID vaccination.
In comparison, the United States has fully vaccinated 66 percent of its population with just 30 percent receiving a booster shot.
Denmark is currently experiencing an average of 1,550 COVID cases per day, a drop in infections of 37 percent over the past 14 days. The country is currently reporting 13.9 COVID-related deaths per day, equivalent to approximately 2.3 deaths per million people per day.
In the U.S. cases have risen by 53 percent over the past two weeks with the New York Times COVID tracker reporting an average of 50,791 cases per day in the country. The death rate in the U.S. is an average of 362 deaths per day, which is equivalent to approximately 1 person per million people.
McKee added that Denmark still has almost 1 in 5 of the population without 2 doses and 2 in 5 without a booster. He cautioned: “Obviously, with signs of new sublineages rising in South Africa we need to keep up our guard so it is important to keep the situation under review.
“Of course, this should not detract from the continuing need for new vaccines with a wider spectrum of effectiveness against variants.”