Infection Rate of Unvaccinated 13 Times Higher

vaccination Laugardalshöll

Unvaccinated people in Iceland are 13 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than those who are fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot, RÚV reports. Half of all hospitalisations in Iceland’s current wave of infection have been unvaccinated people, who represent less than 24% of the population and less than 10% of those eligible for vaccination.

Over 90% of eligible Icelanders, or those 12 years of age and over, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Over 110,000 people have also received a booster shot, or nearly a third of the total population of 370,000. Vaccination rates vary somewhat between age demographics. Nearly 100% of those 70 and older are fully vaccinated in Iceland (most with booster shots as well). The figure drops to just over 90% for those 50-59 years of age, to around 85% for those 40-49, and to roughly 75% for those 16-39. Nearly 70% of children 12-15 years old in Iceland have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Official data from Iceland shows the difference in 14-day incidence rates by age group and vaccination status. These figures show a consistently higher rate of infection among children and adults that are not fully vaccinated as compared to those who are. The current incidence rate for adults who are not fully vaccinated is 780.4, as compared to 465.8 for fully vaccinated adults. The current incidence rate of those who have received a booster shot is just 59.8. Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist has stated that widespread booster shots could help Iceland reach herd immunity.

Iceland’s new Minister of Health Willum Þór Þórsson received his booster shot yesterday. “I just do what the scientists have told us and encouraged us to do. That helps the fight,” he stated on the occasion. “But we have to respect the point of view of those who, for all sorts of reasons, are afraid of it or will not get vaccinated.”

Iceland’s Domestic COVID-19 Restrictions Extended

Minister of Health Willum Þór Þórsson

Iceland’s 50-person gathering limit, mask regulations, and restricted opening hours for bars and restaurants will remain in place for an additional two weeks. Minister of Health Willum Þór Þórsson announced the extension of the country’s current domestic restrictions following a cabinet meeting this morning. Willum added that restrictions might be relaxed earlier if the omicron variant proved of less concern than scientists initially predicted.

Iceland identified its first case of COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant on November 30, and has since discovered at least ten. Local authorities are following the variant’s spread closely to determine whether it is more infectious or causes more serious illness than previous strains.

Iceland’s current domestic restrictions include a 50-person gathering limit, one-metre distancing, and mandatory mask use on public transportation, in shops, and wherever distancing cannot be maintained. Events of up to 500 are permitted on the condition that all guests provide a negative rapid antigent or PCR test certificate. Restaurants and bars may admit guests until 10:00 PM and must close by 11:00 PM. Gyms and swimming pools are permitted to operate at 75% capacity. Gathering and mask restrictions do not apply to children born in 2016 or later.

The restrictions will remain in place until December 22.

Up to a Third of Catch Discarded, Drone Surveillance Reveals

fishing lumpfish net

With the help of drone surveillance, Iceland’s Directorate of Fisheries has discovered ten times as many discard cases in the fishing industry in 2021 than in 2020. So far this year, the Directorate has processed at least 120 cases involving fishing companies, both large and small, that have discarded catch back into the ocean. Some of the cases involved the discard of two or more fish per minute and up to one third of a vessel’s total catch. Kjarninn reported first.

Ten times more discard cases discovered with drones

Until 2021, the Directorate of Fisheries recorded around 10 cases of discard annually. Since introducing drone surveillance at the beginning of this year, that number has increased more than tenfold. The vast majority of these cases concluded with a written letter from the Directorate of Fisheries stating that catch should not be thrown back into the sea, while one case resulted in the temporary suspension of a fishing licence and three with formal warnings.

The drone surveillance is mostly carried out from land, and as a consequence, the cases mostly involve smaller or medium-sized vessels that fish closer to the shore. Some drone surveillance was carried out from ships last spring, however. Four of this year’s cases involve bottom trawlers of the largest size. Elín Björg Ragnarsdóttir, head of the Directorate of Fisheries’ surveillance department, told RÚV that the spike in cases likely does not reflect an increase in the practice of discarding catch, rather simply that more instances are being discovered, though this cannot be confirmed.

An international problem

Discards constitute the portion of a catch of fish that is thrown back into the ocean and not retained on board a fishing vessel. The percentage of such fish that survives the process varies by species. Fish may be discarded due to being an unmarketable species, being below minimum landing size, or being fish that cannot be landed due to quota restrictions. Discard in the North Sea, for example, has been estimated at nearly 1 million tonnes annually, one-third of the total weight landed each year.

Discarding catch at sea is illegal according to Icelandic law. Icelandic regulations require fishing vessels to retain most fish for which quotas have been set or species for which a market exists.