Will the pandemic fade into an ordinary disease like the flu?

This article in Science makes some good points regarding Denmark’s new experiment in pandemic management. In a highly vaccinated country like Denmark, will it be possible for life to return to near its former normal where Covid remains in the background, controlled but not eliminated yet with an impact comparable to the seasonal flu, with which we have always lived?

Denmark’s Covid data on a per capita basis is similar to that of Fairfax County VA (which I recently analyzed in detail in a different post). Denmark has a population of 5.83 million, as compared to Fairfax’s 1.15 million and similar to the DC metropolitan area (5.6 million). The Danish and Fairfax vaccination rates (one dose or more) are similar, 77 percent and 69 percent. The per capita Covid case rate in Denmark is currently half that of Fairfax (7.4 per 100 thousand versus 14 per 100 thousand), whereas death rates are similar (0.03 and 0.04 daily deaths per 100 thousand, respectively). Fairfax’s case and death rates are already much better than the averages for the USA as a whole.

Epidemiologists seem to think that Denmark is not likely to have a major “winter surge” like last year, but only time will tell. We can only know for sure once the data are in. In any case, looking ahead, will the situation in Denmark, and in other places with high vaccination and low case rates like Fairfax, be an indicator of how a mostly controlled pandemic might look in the future?

These Fairfax/Danish per capita case and death rates are similar to another European country, Germany (population 83 million), and are roughly 4 times lower than in the UK (population 67 million), another country with similar high vaccination rates and relaxed restrictions. Fairfax and Denmark have per capita Covid death rates that are 20 to 40 times SMALLER than are current in many US states (such states are all “red” states). Such facts demonstrate quite clearly that pandemic control is possible where people–and, I might add, their social, commercial, and governmental institutions–support one another in taking readily available and sensible steps to protect their health.