Danish disease agency hits back over country’s Covid deaths data

International attention on Denmark after the country lifted its Covid-19 restrictions has resulted in the country’s infectious disease agency taking to Twitter to correct what it says is misinterpretation of data.

Denmark's State Serum Institute
Denmark's State Serum Institute has chosen to tweet in English in response to international discussion of the country's Covid-19 data. File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish infectious disease agency State Serum Institute has tweeted several times in English in recent days in response to criticism of the country’s decision to lift Covid-19 restrictions, including by an American epidemiologist with over 600,000 followers on Twitter.

The State Serum Institute (SSI), the equivalent of the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has consistently tweeted in English since February 10th in more than 20 different Twitter threads about the Denmark’s Covid-19 data, according to Journalisten. That marks a change in policy for the public institution, which normally communicates in Danish.

Notable tweets by SSI include those made in response to Eric Feigl-Ding, a Harvard-educated epidemiologist based in the United States who, in one tweet, accused the Danish government of “losing its frigging mind” and “gaslighting” the country’s population over its decision at the beginning of February to largely end Covid-19 restrictions.

“Dear Eric, once again we would like to stress that the numbers you are sharing with your followers shows (sic.) deaths with (Covid)-19. Not deaths because of (Covid)-19. We would recommend that you read our weekly report for more information on the subject,” SSI tweeted in response to Feigl-Ding.

In its decision to lift restrictions, which was based on recommendations made by the Danish Epidemic Commission, the government cited high vaccination rates, the low severity of disease caused by the Omicron variant and high immunity in the community as justifying an end to restrictions.

The number of patients in hospital with a positive Covid-19 test has since increased, but the number of ICU patients who have the virus has remained stable and is lower than it was at the beginning of January.


Other staff from SSI have also tweeted threads in English to address claims made by Feigl-Ding and other commenters relating to the number of Covid-19 deaths registered in Denmark.

The US epidemiologist claimed that Covid-19 deaths in Denmark were “exponentially surging” as a result of restrictions being lifted.

An SSI chart was posted showing a distinction between deaths caused by Covid-19 and deaths “with” Covid-19 and not caused by it, based on death certificate information.

The SSI chart shows the number of deaths caused by Covid-19 to be stable.

The disease control agency’s head of media communications, Flemming Platz, told Journalisten that since restrictions had been lifted “there has been extreme international attention (on Denmark) and it is important that the population can access and understand the things we are doing”.

“We can see on Twitter that many don’t understand our situation [the reasoning for lifting restrictions, ed.] and they are reading our numbers incorrectly, and that is of course also because of language difficulties. So they can’t read the explanations we have,” he said.

“It’s a unique situation. We have unprecedented international attention at the moment. We think it’s our obligation to ensure that the knowledge comes out,” he said.

Member comments

  1. Good to see the Danish government respond so quickly! Misinformation can spread quite rapidly these days, and it is important to correct it as soon as it is spotted. Though I do wonder how many of these Twitter followers saw the corrections.

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Covid-19: Infections trend downwards in all Danish regions

A total of 22,784 new cases of Covid-19 were detected in Denmark in the latest daily update, published on Friday.

Covid-19: Infections trend downwards in all Danish regions

The positive results were found among 90,012 PCR tests, giving a test positivity rate of 25 percent. The proportion of test results has been around 25-30 percent in recent weeks, although the number of tests administered has gradually decreased since Denmark lifted Covid-19 restrictions on February 1st.

The data comes from the national infectious disease agency State Serum Institute (SSI).

Danish hospitals now have a total of 1,762 patients with Covid-19. But a large proportion of these were admitted for reasons other than Covid-19 while incidentally having tested positive for the coronavirus.

Of the 1,762 patients, 45 are admitted to ICU wards and 17 are receiving breathing assistance from a ventilator.

It is 16 days since the highest number of new cases was recorded in Denmark, with 55,120 registered on February 9th.

The last week has seen the number of confirmed cases falling in 97 of Denmark’s 98 municipalities, with the only exception being the island of Samsø. That suggests that western and rural parts of Denmark have now reached the peak of the Omicron wave of infections, following on from the earlier peak in Copenhagen.

Experts in Denmark have long predicted that infections would decrease while stating that the stable number of ICU patients was evidence that the pandemic was not in a critical situation despite high infection numbers.

An additional 40 deaths with Covid-19 were registered on Friday. SSI on Thursday issued a report in which it estimated that around half of recorded deaths with the virus are due to reasons other than Covid-19.

A person is included in data for Covid-19 related deaths in Denmark if they have returned a positive PCR test 30 days or less prior to their death.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Are deaths from Covid-19 in Denmark increasing?