– The uncertainty is greater. Even in March 2020, when we got the virus in, we had observed the development for a couple of months in other countries. We had experience with large outbreaks of infection from Italy and elsewhere, Guldvog told NTB after Tuesday’s press conference.
He says they had more knowledge about more parameters of the coronavirus in March 2020 than they have about the omicron variant, which really started to spread a few weeks ago in South Africa.
– Of course we have much more knowledge about pandemics and covid today, but there is a lot we are still waiting for information about this particular virus’ infectivity and virulence, ie how much it has the ability to create disease, says the health director.
Uncertainty about measures
Precisely this uncertainty means that the authorities are less sure of how effective the measures are this time.
– We have experience that through measures we have been able to drive the infection back again and again, but we are not sure if the measures are as effective as they have been earlier in the pandemic, but we hope so.
– Why are you not sure?
– Because it is a much more contagious virus, and therefore the infection can be transmitted more easily in a good number of situations.
Ahead of the government’s new package of measures, which was presented on Tuesday, the Norwegian Directorate of Health stated “that the situation is more worrying now than in previous pandemic waves”.
The government has introduced a number of measures to limit contact between people and has announced a new assessment in two weeks.
Støre: Must learn more
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Labor Party) says that the government is awaiting more knowledge about the new virus variant.
– We know a lot about covid-19, but we also know that there are variants that we must learn more about before we can draw the right conclusions. Now we learn that it is a variant that is more contagious than the previous one, and then we must take measures that correspond to it, he says to NTB.
Støre points out that there is already a large-scale exchange of information between the countries.
– I had a conversation with the Prime Minister of Israel a few days ago, who has come a long way in a number of vaccine fields, to hear about their experiences. The public health authorities also have their international contact network, and in that sense we are better placed to fine-tune the measures we have, he says.
Stoltenberg: Know more in two weeks
NIPH director Camilla Stoltenberg says that she is unsure of how long it will take to get clear answers about the omicron variant.
– We probably think that we will be able to know quite a lot more in 14 days, but we are not entirely sure. But we want to see what happens in countries that are similar to us, she says.
She points out that there are several studies and studies underway in different countries.
In addition, it will be crucial to look at the development in the number of admissions and infections as the new variant becomes dominant. The authorities are also trying to slow this down.
– We think that the news we have so far – although it is very difficult to know whether we can trust them – is that omikron spreads quickly, and that it may be about as pathogenic, maybe a little less. But it is very uncertain. But now that it is just as pathogenic and spreads quickly, it is a huge problem when it settles on top of the delta wave we already have.