Article on COVID-19 in Iceland in New England Journal of Medicine

Vala Hafstað

An article on the spread of the novel coronavirus in Iceland was published by the The New England Journal of Medicine yesterday. The authors are scientist at deCode Genetics and their colleagues at the Directorate of Health and at Landspítali National University Hospital, reports.

At the website of deCode, the aim of the study is explained:

“The aim of the study was to provide as comprehensive a view as possible of how the virus spreads in a population, in this case one of 360,000 and implementing early and aggressive testing, tracking and isolation measures to contain the epidemic.

The results show that roughly 0.8 percent of the population at large is infected with several strains or clades of the virus supporting the concern that silent carriers spread the disease.

This suggests that while the efforts of the public health system have been effective so far in mitigating the spread to date, more data, including massive population screening, will be key to informing efforts to contain the virus in Iceland in the long run.”

“In attempting to carefully map the molecular epidemiology of COVID-19 in Iceland we hope to provide the entire world with data to use in the collective global effort to curb the spread of the disease,” Kári Stefánsson, CEO of deCode Genetics is quoted as saying.

Kári states that widespread screening (ten percent of the nation has already been tested for the virus) and measures taken by the Directorate of Health to slow the spread of the virus give a good example of how this dangerous pandemic can be fought.

General screening in Iceland by deCode began March 13, where anyone who wanted could sign up for screening. By March 31, 10,797 individuals had been tested, 87 of whom tested positive for the virus. Subsequently, 2,283 peoople, randomly chosen, were tested, with a similar result.

After that, a sequence analysis of 643 positive tests was done, showing that the first cases originated in Italy and Austria, but later on, transmissions were traced to other countries.

Currently, 291 mutations of the virus have been found in the country that have not been identified elsewhere, according to


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