Women in Iceland Still Bear the Brunt of Domestic Labour

Women in Iceland are more likely than men to reduce their paid work hours in order to do unpaid work within the household. Women are also more likely to extend their parental leave than men and bear more responsibility when it comes to communicating with their children’s schools. Eight per cent of men never worry about household chores or childcare.

These findings are from a recent study conducted by Varða, a labour market research institute in Iceland. The study examines how couples balance work and family life and is based on a survey of parents with children 1-12 years old. Heimildin reported first.

Women more likely to work part-time

The study shows that women are more likely to work part-time than men: 68% of mothers were working full-time compared to 96% of fathers. The main reason mothers were working part-time was to make it easier to balance work and family duties. Women bore more responsibility for childcare after parental leave, did more of the communication with schools and after-school centres than men, and were more likely to worry about household tasks and childcare while at work than men. Women had also chosen their careers in order to facilitate balancing family and professional life to a greater extent than men.

Despite having one of the highest women’s employment rates in the world and scoring highly on many measures of gender equality, women in Iceland are more likely to reduce their paid working hours than men in Iceland. Women also bear the brunt of household chores and child-rearing and household management, or the so-called second and third shift.

Balance between work and family affects health

The survey asked parents how often they worry about household tasks and childcare when they are at work. A much higher percentage of women than men reported having such worries on a daily basis (43%) compared to men (27.7%). A higher percentage of men reported never having such worries (8%) compared to women (4.8%).

Varða’s report points to research showing that a balance between family and professional life, or a lack thereof, can have a decisive impact on health, both mental and physical. Studies have also shown that a good work-family balance increases people’s job satisfaction and work capacity.

Read more about the women’s rights movement in Iceland and Iceland’s recent shortening of the work week.

Majority of Surveyed Advertisers Want RÚV to Stay on Ad Market

Minister Lilja Alfreðsdóttir

A recent study conducted by the Bifröst University examined the attitudes of large advertisers towards RÚV’s presence in the advertising market. The majority of respondents were in favour of RÚV remaining in the ad market.

Majority in favour

The question of whether or not the National Broadcaster (RÚV) should remain in the advertising market has long been a controversial one. In broad strokes, opponents argue that RÚV, being partly funded by government subsidies, enjoys an unfair advantage over private media companies, while proponents maintain that RÚV’s programming would suffer and that a portion of the ad revenue that RÚV would receive would be diverted to foreign advertisers (Google, Facebook, e.g.). Minister of Culture and Business Affairs Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir recently announced that she would not be withdrawing RÚV from the ad market. (A working group was established in April to examine the effect of the withdrawal.)

A recent study conducted by Bifröst University has now shed light on the perspectives of advertisers regarding the potential removal of RÚV from the advertising market. During a seminar held in the House of Business, some significant findings were presented yesterday morning, RÚV reports.

The survey’s authors sent a questionnaire to 111 executives of Icelandic companies and received 56 responses. Out of the respondents, around 30% were from companies with over 200 full-time employees, while 19% represented companies with 100 to 200 employees. The researchers were satisfied with the response rate.

One of the key insights from the study revealed that approximately 36% of advertisers expressed their intentions to either reduce their advertising budget or redirect it outside the country if RÚV was eliminated from the advertising market. The survey also found that a majority of the respondents, about 64%, viewed the removal of RÚV from the advertising market in a negative light.

Following the presentation of the research findings, a panel discussion was held with marketers active in the advertising market.

20% to divert funds to foreign media

Nearly half of the respondents in the survey believe that advertising funds currently allocated by marketers would shift, to some extent, towards other media channels. Over 20% of advertisers stated that they would completely divert their advertising budgets to foreign social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

The study also found that Sjónvarp Símans was identified as the private media company that stood to benefit the most from the removal of RÚV from the advertising market. However, only around 19% of respondents expressed their intention to advertise there. A smaller percentage, specifically 7%, indicated their preference for advertising with Stöð 2, Stöð 2+, and Sýn’s sports channels.

Conversely, the radio segment of the survey revealed a different trend. If RÚV were to be removed from the advertising market, 47.6% of advertisers would shift their focus to Sýn’s radio platform. Bylgjan, Sýn’s most popular radio station, was identified as a favoured prospect.

It is noteworthy that 9.5% of advertisers expressed interest in targeting podcast listeners and considered advertising on that platform. Additionally, 7.1% of respondents stated their intention to advertise with Árvakur’s radio media (Árvakur is the publisher of Morgunblaðið).

Filmed commercials to decrease significantly

The study noted that the film industry would undoubtedly face significant consequences if RÚV were to be removed from the market. Over 30% of respondents indicated that they would either greatly reduce their production of filmed TV commercials or cease production altogether in such a scenario.

The survey conducted by the researchers also aimed to explore other aspects, including the comments made in relation to the bankruptcy of Torg ehf, the company that owned and operated the media outlets Fréttablaðið and Hringbraut. Sigmundur Ernir Rúnarsson, the former editor of Fréttablaðið, argued that RÚV’s dominant market position had played a part in the company’s bankruptcy.

Respondents were asked about their perceptions regarding the impact of RÚV’s presence in the advertising market on the bankruptcy. Around 67% stated that they believed RÚV had little or no influence on Fréttablaðið’s fate. Regarding the TV station Hringbraut, half of the respondents held the belief that RÚV played little or no role in its closure.


As noted by RÚV, the study’s main results indicated the following:

Two out of three respondents were in favour of the status quo, that is, of RÚV remaining in the advertising market.

84% of participants use RÚV to publish TV and radio advertisements.

35% of advertisers said they were likely to transfer their advertising money to other national TV channels if RÚV was taken off the market.

36% of advertisers would either reduce advertising money or divert it to foreign media.

59% of participants believe that the absence of RÚV would have a major impact on their ability to achieve set advertising goals.

63% of advertisers who produce filmed ads think it is likely that they will reduce that production if RÚV were removed from the ad market.

A Third of Icelanders Read Books Every Day, Study Finds

book literature Icelandic

Icelanders read or listen to an average of 2.4 books a month, according to a new survey conducted by the Icelandic Literature Centre. The survey notes an increase in the number of individuals who read five or more books a month and those who report not reading at all.

One in three reads every day

According to a new survey conducted by the Icelandic Literature Centre – which has been conducted annually since 2017 – the percentage of individuals who “never read” has increased (from 32.1% last year to 40.4% this year). However, so has the percentage of individuals who read five or more books a month. The survey, which was conducted between October 14 and November 8 of this year, comprised 1,409 respondents (out of 2,800).

The survey also found that over a third of Icelanders read or listen to books on a daily basis. The average number of books read per month has risen over the past two years; last year, Icelanders read an average of 2.3 books a month, compared to 2.4 books this year. 65% of respondents stated that they only or mainly read books published in the Icelandic language, which is up from 58% compared to last year.

Gender-based differences

The survey also found significant differences between the genders. According to the results, women read an average of 3 books a month compared to 1.7 among men. The gap between the genders has slightly narrowed between the last two years, however.

Here are a few other takeaways from the survey:

  • Older people read more than younger people; individuals between the ages of 18 and 24, which was the youngest age group to be surveyed, read fewer books on average when compared to older age groups.
  • University graduates read a greater number of books on average when compared to less formally educated individuals.
  • There is no significant difference between the reading habits of capital-area residents and rural residents.
  • Approximately 18% of Icelanders report reading an equal number of books published in Icelandic as in other languages; approximately 14% read more frequently in languages other than Icelandic; and about 3% of respondents stated that they only read books in languages other than Icelandic.
  • People under the age of 34 are more likely to read in languages other than Icelandic when compared to older age groups.
  • 27% of university students said that they read more frequently in languages other than Icelandic.

When it comes to the Icelanders’ taste in reading, most prefer novels, or 59%. Crime fiction was the second most popular genre among respondents.

Just over a third borrow books from libraries

Over a half of respondents, 55%, stated that they received book recommendations from friends and relatives; 35% stated they were influenced by coverage from traditional media; and 31% from social media.

Over the past 12 months, just over a third of Icelanders have borrowed books from libraries. The survey found that women borrow books from the library more frequently than men and parents with two or more children at home borrow books from the library most frequently.

The results also indicate that fewer people are giving books as gifts when compared to last year.

The survey was conducted by the Icelandic Literature Centre in collaboration with the Reykjavík Library, the Association of Icelandic Book Publishers, Hagþenki, the University Library, Reykjavík UNESCO Literary City, and the Writers’ Association of Iceland.

New Report Examines Food Self-Sufficiency in Five Nordic Island Societies

Iceland fishing quota reform

A new report examining the ways in which “greater food self-sufficiency can contribute to increased sustainability and resilience in the food systems of five Nordic island societies” finds that Iceland has a high degree of food self-sufficiency, thanks in large part to its “substantial fish and seafood production.” Even so, there remains work to be done to achieve even greater self-sufficiency, and food security remains the country’s “primary focus.”

The report, “Food self-sufficiency in five Nordic island societies,” was funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Working Group for Circular Economy. In addition to Iceland, it also investigated food self-sufficiency in Bornholm, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland. Researchers explored local strategies for food production and interviewed local experts, compared what challenges and opportunities for food self-sufficiency were perceived by people living in each society, and compiled a list of “good examples” from each place, while also noting that “local food production does not automatically equate to sustainable food production.”

Iceland, like Greenland and the Faroe Islands, is subject to the Arctic climate, shorter growing seasons, and “fewer areas with suitable soil conditions for agricultural production,” notes the report. But none of these factors prevent it from having the second highest degree of self-sufficiency (when measured in energy). This is, in part, because of the “abundance of marine resources” at its disposal, as well as “innovative production methods that use natural resources,” namely “geothermal heating for vegetable production.”

Screenshot of table in “Food self-sufficiency in five Nordic Island Societies,” Nordic Council of Ministers, August 2022

Researchers calculated food self-sufficiency in two ways, the main difference between the two methods being “whether exported food is considered.” Per the report, “The first calculation, degree of self-sufficiency, is defined as the proportion of food that is both produced and consumed in a country or region, and excludes exported food. The second calculation, food self-sufficiency ratio, considers the total food production, including food that may eventually be exported.”

Measured in energy (KJ), Iceland had the second highest degree of self-sufficiency (53%) after the Finnish islands of Åland (59%). Bornholm had the lowest ranking according to this measurement, or 6%, coming in the lowest in this category because such a large share of the food produced on the Danish island is exported. But all of the island societies ranked high “regarding the amount of food (kgs) and the caloric value” of food produced. In Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroes, this is, again, credited to “substantial fish and seafood production.”

When exports are taken into consideration, however, Iceland’s self-sufficiency ratio is the lowest of the five island societies, whether measured in energy or in kilos. The Faroe Islands had the highest self-sufficiency ratio in both measurements: 446% when measured in energy (KJ) and 549% when measured in kilos. While ranking the lowest, Iceland still had a 100% score when the self-sufficiency ratio was measured in energy, and 109% when measured in kilos.

The number of tourists in each country was considered alongside the local populations, although interestingly for Iceland, “tourism was found to have a limited effect on the level of food self-sufficiency” in each society.

Focus remains on food security

Reviewing the food and agricultural strategies employed in each of the island societies, researchers found that Iceland’s primary focus remains on food security; “food self-sufficiency is included but not heavily emphasised” in its policy and production.

All of the societies examined shared many of the same challenges (such as local competition against cheaper, imported foods), vulnerabilities (dependency on imported materials such as fodder and fertiliser to support food production), and barriers (“an available and suitably qualified workforce”). They also shared strengths, such as relatively small populations, “which means that collaboration and creating synergies across food system actors is an achievable reality.”

The report concludes with eleven policy recommendations “to guide future work on food self-sufficiencies and local food systems” in each of the five studied societies. These include: increased access to locally produced food for restaurants, public institutions, and local citizens; the addressing of of consumer behaviour and eating habits; exploring new business models geared toward the local market; the exploration of “possibilities for diversifying the food production,” not least with an eye to “transitioning a share of animal-based food production to plant-based options” and more.

You can read the full report and its findings, in English, here.

Fewer Icelandic Teens Drinking and Having Sex

teenagers nauthólsvík summer sun

In 2006, 36% of Icelandic girls in the 10th grade stated that they had had intercourse, and 29% of boys of the same age. Those figures have now fallen to 24% among girls and 27% among boys, Fréttablaðið reports. Less than one in five 15-year-old boys in Iceland stated they used a condom the last time they had intercourse.

The data comes from an international survey called Health Behaviour in School-aged Children, which has been carried out in Iceland since 2006. The survey’s fundings indicate that one-fourth of 15-year-old boys and one-sixth of 15-year-old girls have had intercourse. Iceland’s results show that one-third fewer girls report having had sex than in 2006, and slightly fewer boys.

Decreased alcohol consumption likely a factor

“Sexual activity is a natural accompaniment of puberty that adolescents go through. The first steps can, however, be complicated and if they are taken before the individual is ready, the consequences can be negative,” explains University of Iceland Professor Ársæll Arnarsson, who is a director of Icelandic youth research. He conjectures that less alcohol consumption among teenagers could be one reason they are having less sex.

The COVID pandemic is certainly not the reason, Ársæll says, as “this development began before it appeared. Decreased alcohol consumption is likely a big factor. Drinking among Icelandic teenagers has decreased sharply in recent decades and the same can be said of other countries to which we compare ourselves, though the development there has not been as decisive as here in Iceland.”

Condom use far lower than international average

Condom use among youth varies significantly between countries, the survey results show. In Europe and North America, 61% of sexually active youth used a condom the last time they had intercourse. While the proportion in Malta was 52%, it was just 8% in Denmark. Just 18% of 15-year-old boys in Iceland stated that they used a condom the last time they had intercourse, which Ársæll calls disappointing. “This of course manifests in higher rates of sexually transmitted infections here in Iceland. The condom is, in addition to being a contraceptive, very good protection against that type of infection.”

Thousands Diagnosed in Icelandic Blood Cancer Study

doctor nurse hospital health

More than 3,600 people have been diagnosed with pre-stage myeloma in an Icelandic study involving blood screening, Vísir reports. Nearly 60 entered drug treatment as a result, which has been effective. The European Research Council has decided to support the research program with a grant of €2 million [ISK 285 million; $2.2 million], enabling the study to continue.

Myeloma is an incurable type of blood cancer that develops from bone marrow cells. Patients’ outlook is generally better when it is diagnosed early. In the autumn of 2016, a national campaign was launched in Iceland to screen for the disease; a collaboration between the University of Iceland, the National University Hospital, and the Icelandic Cancer Society. The aim of the study is to investigate the effects of screening for pre-stage myeloma, to investigate the causes and consequences of the disease, and to improve the lives of those diagnosed with myeloma and search for a possible cure.

More than 75,000 samples have been screened in the study, diagnosing more than 3,600 people with pre-stage myeloma, and almost 300 with advanced myeloma. Those with advanced myeloma have been invited to participate in drug trials with the aim of preventing the progression of the disease.

Effective drug treatment of precursors

Sigurður Yngvi Kristinsson, professor of blood diseases at the University of Iceland’s School of Medicine and a specialist at the National University Hospital, is the recipient of the European Research Council grant. “This is a great recognition for me and the whole research team and the good work that we have been doing lately, and, of course, it enables us to continue researching myeloma and its precursors,” he stated.

“By searching carefully, we find people who are on the verge of developing myeloma,” Sigurður Yngvi explained. “They have what is called smouldering myeloma and are at great risk of that developing into myeloma. And we have been able to intervene before they get myeloma and give them drug treatment, and have nearly 60 people in drug treatment now and some have completed two years of drug treatment with great success, and that is perhaps the biggest milestone.”

Shorter Week for Same Pay Means Happier, Healthier Workers

Reykjavík restaurant workers

A shorter workweek without reduced pay improved worker well-being and work-life balance, while maintaining or even improving worker productivity, a new study co-published by the Icelandic Association for Democracy and Sustainability (ALDA) and independent think tank Autonomy shows. Will Stronge, Director of Research at Autonomy told the BBC that “the world’s largest ever trial of a shorter working week in the public sector was by all measures an overwhelming success” and has valuable takeaways for other governments around the world.

The study, called “Going Public: Iceland’s Journey to a Shorter Working Week,” analyses findings from a series of trials conducted by the City of Reykjavík from 2014-19 and the Icelandic government from 2017-21. In both trials, workplaces moved from 40-hour to 35 or 36-hour workweeks, without any reduction in pay for employees. The City of Reykjavík trial eventually included a total of 2,500 workers—more than 1% of Iceland’s workforce. Workers from offices, playschools, city maintenance facilities, care homes for people with disabilities, schools, museums, and the mayor’s office took part, among others. The government trial expanded on this initial trial, with the aim of understanding if the shortening of hours would have a positive impact on “both those who work irregular shifts as well as traditional daytime workers.” Four workplaces took part in the latter study: the Directorate of Internal Revenue, the Directorate of Immigration, Registers Iceland, and a police station in the Westfjords.

The trials “directly contradict” the frequently cited concern that “will unintentionally lead to overwork,” namely that in order “to maintain the same output, workers will simply end up making up their ‘lost hours’ through formal or informal overtime.” Instead, workplaces dealt with this concern by “implementing new work strategies, and through organising tasks via cooperation between workers and managers.” Strategies ranged from shortening meetings and rethinking shift plans to getting rid of longer coffee breaks during the work day.

Overall, participating workers reported feeling more energised after adjusting to their new, shorter schedules, and less stressed. They reported a better work-life balance, with more time for errands, to see family and friends, and just more time for themselves. They reported less stress at home and more time for exercise. “Many male participants in heterosexual relationships took a greater role in home duties after the trial started,” the study notes, “especially around cleaning and cooking.”

Shorter workweek has had a “negative effect,” argues police union chair

Not everyone is equally enamored with the shorter work week and its impacts, however. According to Fjölnir Sæmundsson, the chair of Iceland’s National Police Union, the shorter workweek has, for one, led to understaffing. He told Vísir that it had been estimated that the equivalent of 75 full-time personnel would need to be hired once the workweek was shortened, but the number of police officers employed has remained roughly the same. Fjölnir also said that officers are experiencing more stress.

“People have to come into work more often and are more stressed because there aren’t enough people on duty, especially out in the countryside,” he said. “I was just talking, for example to a man who runs an investigation unit who said that when people take off on Friday because of the shorter work week, their projects have to just wait until Monday because no one else has been hired. There’s no one to do it, which means it takes longer. People can’t just run faster; it’s been an out and out sprint already. The shortening of the work week has made it so that police officers are a bit tired. Police out in the countryside say they’re giving up—they can’t handle the stress.”

The National Commissioner of Police says that hiring is ongoing and that shift plans are still being adjusted to better accommodate the new hours and that things will be clearer in the fall.

Icelandic men work 12% longer weeks than women

Whether or not the shorter workweek is having a positive impact on workers in various sectors, it seems as though there are still gender-based discrepancies in working hours. A new report issued by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that the difference in working hours for men and women in full-time positions is greater in Iceland than any other country surveyed. One reason given for this is that the marginal income tax is higher on women in cohabitating partnerships than men.

The OECD report found that Icelandic men’s working week is as much as 12% longer than that of Icelandic women. In Sweden and Norway, by contrast, there’s a 3% difference; in Denmark, it’s 4%. Among other OECD countries, the difference averages around 6%.

The report projects that one explanation for the difference in Iceland is that marginal taxes, which allows for the sharing of personal allowances, are levied more on women than men. The joint tax credit is used more often by men than women, as they often have higher incomes, which gives women less incentive to work more. The report projects, however, that changes to parental leave policy in Iceland will likely reduce the difference in working hours over time.

“The Icelandic trials can play a flagship role”

Although there are clearly more conversations and policy changes to be discussed around the shorter workweek, the trials in the ALDA/Autonomy study have, according to its authors, already made a lasting and widespread impact in Iceland: local trade unions have “achieved permanent reductions in working hours for tens of thousands of their members across the country. In total, roughly 86% of Iceland’s entire working population has now moved to working shorter hours or have gained the right to shorten their working hours.”

Looking beyond the local environment, the study concludes that given the broad participation in these trials (1% of the workforce) and the inclusion of workplaces, such as schools and maintenance facilities that are often presumed to be unsuitable for shorter working hours, “the Icelandic trials can play a flagship role in showing how working time reduction should be considered a powerful, desirable and viable policy across contemporary advanced economies.”

Read the full report, in English, here.

Find No Evidence of Seafood Fraud in Iceland Despite 2016 Study Results

fish restaurant

Restaurant inspections in Reykjavík have failed to find evidence of seafood fraud indicated by a 2016 study that made international headlines recently, Vísir reports. The study indicated that Icelandic restaurants had some of the highest rates of mislabelled fish in all of Europe. Óskar Ísfeld Sigurðsson, head of food control at the Reykjavík Public Health Authority, says the study results do not reflect food inspectors’ experience.

UK media outlet the Guardian published an article last week consolidating 44 studies of seafood products sold in restaurants, markets, and auctions around the world over the past several years. The article stated that of some 9,000 products, nearly 40% were incorrectly labelled. In some cases a cheaper fish was labelled as a more expensive variety, while in others potentially poisonous species were mislabelled, leading to health risk.

Study Suggested 40% of Fish Mislabelled

One of the studies cited was published in 2018 and concerned restaurants across Europe. It found the highest percentage of incorrect labelling in Spain, Iceland, France, and Germany. The Icelandic samples for the study were taken at 22 restaurants in 2016. DNA analysis revealed that 23% of the samples belonged to another species than was advertised and fish had been mislabelled at 40% of restaurants.

Jónas Rúnar Viðarsson of Icelandic Food and Biotech Consulting Company Matís was one of the authors of the study. He stated that a comparable inspection has not taken place since. Conducing such studies is expensive and requires special funding. “It is mainly the Public Health Authority in Reykjavík that has some ability to do something, but it also has to monitor a lot of restaurants. These kinds of studies are expensive,” he stated.

Mistakes More Likely Explanation than Scam

Óskar Ísfeld Sigurðsson, head of food control at the Reykjavík Public Health Authority, says the organisation has placed great emphasis on tracing the origin of food products in recent years. While they do not carry out DNA testing like that conducted in the 2016 study, they inspect restaurant menus and whether the correspond to raw ingredients in their freezers and fridges.

“If we see expensive fish on the menu and some cheaper fish in the fridge, it would arouse our suspicion, but we do not see any examples of this. These results don’t match our experience,” Óskar said about the 2016 study. Óskar says he expressed doubt about the study’s results when it was first published, saying he didn’t believe it painted a realistic picture of the situation. He requested information on which restaurants had been found to falsely label fish, but was denied, as the data was collected for a scientific study and not public health monitoring.

According to Óskar, the mislabelling could more likely be attributed to servers incorrectly naming fish on the menu or simply unintentional mistakes. There have even been examples of restaurants selling more expensive species as cheaper species, something no restaurateur would do on purpose.

Chief Epidemiologist to Meet Pfizer Representatives Today: “Let’s just see what happens”

Iceland’s health authorities will meet Pfizer representatives this afternoon to discuss the possibility of a nationwide study which would drastically speed up the country’s COVID-19 vaccination plans. If an agreement is reached, Pfizer would provide Iceland with enough doses of their COVID vaccine to inoculate a majority of the population. In exchange, Iceland would provide the drug manufacturer with valuable data that could shed light on herd immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason and Kári Stefánsson, CEO of Iceland-based biopharmaceutical company deCODE genetics, have been in talks with Pfizer regarding a potential study in Iceland since late last year. A deal between the two parties has yet to be reached, however. In a briefing in Reykjavík yesterday, Þórólfur dismissed rumours that the two parties were close to reaching a deal, stating that Icelandic authorities had yet to see so much as a draft of a contract.

In a radio interview this morning, Þórólfur declined to confirm whether today’s meeting with Pfizer representatives would determine whether the study will in fact go forward. The Chief Epidemiologist encouraged the Icelandic public to temper their expectations. “I think people shouldn’t set their hopes too high and expectations shouldn’t be too high. Let’s just see what happens and if this is something that will actualise.”

Þórólfur emphasised that any contract offered by Pfizer would need to be reviewed by Icelandic authorities. “Because this will be a scientific study, both the National Bioethics Committee and the [Data Protection Authority] need to discuss it.” Other institutions would also need to review and approve the contract for the study to take place.

Iceland began vaccinating against COVID-19 on December 29. Since then, 12,801 have received one or both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country, just under 3.5% of the population. Authorities have stated they hope to vaccinate the majority of the population within the first half of the year. If the deal with Pfizer were to go through, this schedule would be sped up considerably.

COVID-19 Antibodies Last for Months, Icelandic Research Shows

COVID-19 test tubes

An Icelandic study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that COVID-19 antibodies last at least four months without declining. The research suggests there is little likelihood of developing COVID-19 twice. It also suggests vaccines could be effective in preventing infection over a long period, even with just one or two doses.

The study measured antibodies in samples from 30,576 people, including 1,237 who had recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection. Among those who had recovered, antibodies proved higher in older people and those who were hospitalised. Men tended to develop more antibodies than women, and there was a positive correlation between the severity of illness and the amount of antibodies. Those who showed only slight symptoms or were asymptomatic general developed fewer antibodies to SARS-CoV-2.

One- or Two-Dose Vaccine

Kári Stefánsson, CEO of DeCODE genetics, which conducted the study, told RÚV that in light of the study results, a vaccine could provide relatively long-term protection from infection. “This indicates that antibodies formed during vaccination should be able to last considerably,” Kári stated. “You do not need to be vaccinated more than once or maybe twice, but in any case, it seems to last considerably.”

Read More: Iceland to Buy 550,000 Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine

Reports of Reinfection Not the Norm

Kári stated that rare reports of cases abroad where individuals are believed to have been infected more than once should not cause alarm for the average person. “When 25 million people have been infected with this virus, it must have reached people who are diverse when it comes to the immune system. But that doesn’t mean that ordinary people who have been infected are at high risk of reinfection.”