Around 2,000 Icelandic Pensioners Live Abroad

Tenerife elderly senior Spain

New data from Statistics Iceland shows that there were around 51,000 Icelandic pensioners as of December 2020—an increase of 3.9% from what this number was a year ago. Just under 2,000 Icelandic pensioners live abroad now, which represents 4% of the total number of pensioners. The number of pensioners living abroad has increased by 45% since 2017.

Around 24,000 of the recorded pensioners are men and 27,000 are women. About a quarter of the individuals on pensions were under 70 years of age; almost half were 75 or older.

The number of pensioners on disability has increased by 0.3% between this year and last, almost 20,000 people total. This is a lower relative increase than has been seen in previous years. Close to 12,000 pensioners on disability are women and around 8,000 are men.

The number of individuals receiving rehabilitation pensions increased by a quarter, just around 3,000 at the end of last year. Rehabilitation pensions differ from disability pensions in that they are temporary.

See the full report, in English, here.

How many people in Iceland smoke?

Smoking in Iceland has been banned in restaurants, cafés, bars, and nightclubs as of June 2007. A large majority of Icelanders approve of the ban.

The European Health Interview Survey (2017) published by Statistics Iceland shows Iceland is close to the top of the list of countries with the fewest smokers in Europe. With just over 81%, Iceland has the third-highest proportion of people who never smoke. Iceland has the fifth highest proportion of occasional smokers (just under 7%) and the second-lowest rate of daily smokers (12%).

According to a study done by Iceland’s Directorate of Health in 2018, around 10,700 Icelanders use e-cigarettes daily.

Fine of ISK 6.5 Million for Smuggled Roses

The Reykjavík District Court has sentenced a flower wholesaler to two months’ probation and a fine of ISK 6.5 million [$50,077; €43,244] for smuggling roses and bouquets into the country, RÚV reports. An employee of the wholesaler was also fined ISK 1 million [$7,704; €6,653].

The accused, who pleaded guilty, were charged with smuggling four shipments of cut roses and mixed bouquets into Iceland between 2016 and 2018, although the oldest of the charges was dropped.

According to the indictment, the wholesaler provided customs with inaccurate and/or misleading information about the types and quantities of flowers that they were importing from the Netherlands.

COVID-19 Booster Shots Could Help Iceland Reach Herd Immunity

COVID-19 briefing Iceland Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason

Of the 30,000 people who have received a booster shot in Iceland, only 10 have contracted COVID, around 0.03%. Of the 270,000-280,000 that are fully vaccinated, 4,500 people have contracted COVID, around 1.6%. Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist stated there is strong evidence that booster shots could create herd immunity in Iceland.

Three doses 90% more effective than two

In an interview on TV program Kastljós last night, Þórólfur explained that experts initially hoped herd immunity would be achieved when the majority of a population was fully vaccinated with two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. That hope was based on research with early variants of SARS-CoV-2. The Delta variant of COVID-19, however, proved more infectious than experts anticipated.

While vaccination has significantly lowered rates of infection, transmission, and serious illness in Iceland, it still does not prevent large waves of infection. “Now it has come to light that two doses are not quite good enough,” Þórólfur stated. “For example in Israel, it came to light that the third dose given 5-6 months after dose two works very well, is 90% more effective than dose two in preventing infection, transmission, and serious illness.” He added: “I think there are all indications for us to hope that dose number three will create herd immunity here or at least significantly [reduce the spread of COVID].”

Booster shots administered over next five months

Iceland’s health authorities will begin administering booster shots en masse next week and expect to administer 120,000 before the end of the year. All eligible residents are expected to be offered a booster shot by the end of March 2022. “We hope that people will show up because the booster shot not only protects the individual from infection and serious illness, but also from spreading infection. That way we should be able to get out of COVID, if everything works as it seems like it will.”

Over 76% of Iceland’s total population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Þórólfur stated that around 11% of those eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in Iceland (those 12 years and older) have yet to be vaccinated.