Saturday, April 11, 2020

Iceland - Setting the COVID-19 Pandemic Gold Standard

Updated April 22, 2020

Iceland, one of the world's smallest nations in terms of population: proving to be an excellent study in how to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly given its setting as an island and the fact that most international passengers arrive through a single point at Keflavik International Airport.  It is important to note that 19.8 percent of Iceland's population is 60 years of age and older.

Here are the government's objectives and actions:

"The objective of the measures taken in Icelandic authorities have from the beginning had a clear purpose, that is to ensure that the necessary infrastructure — particularly to include the healthcare system — is able to withstand the strain that the illness will cause in Iceland.

In this context, it is important to stress that anyone could contract the virus, but that the vast majority of people will not become seriously ill. Older people and those with underlying medical conditions are most vulnerable to serious illness. In order to protect these groups, we must join forces to slow down the spread of the virus and thereby ensure that these vulnerable individuals have ready access to effective, efficient healthcare service if they need it.

In the beginning the aim was to spread out the strain over a longer period of time so that healthcare institutions in Iceland can provide the best possible care to all."

Here is a timeline showing how Iceland's government managed the pandemic:

Here are the main measures taken:

Iceland's government notes that it has tested a higher proportion of its population than most other nations, giving it (and scientists) valuable insights into the behaviour of the novel coronavirus.

Here are some key statistics:

Assuming a population of 357,000, to this point in time, Iceland has tested 12.5 percent of its citizens.

Here is a graph showing the number of tests completed per day:

Here is a graph showing the number of infected persons per day:

The number of newly infected persons on a daily basis has dropped significantly since early April, hitting a peak of 104 on March 24th, dropping to 14 on April 10th and a range of between 2 and 15 between April 11th and April 21st.

Here is a graph showing the number of active infections, number of recovered infections and deaths:

Thus far, Iceland has seen 10 deaths out of 1,785 confirmed infections resulting in a 0.56 percent mortality rate when only counting confirmed infections.  Of the deaths, 1 occurred in the age range between 30 and 39, 2 occurred in the age range between 60 and 69, 3 occurred in the age range between 70 and 79 and 4 occurred in the age range between 80 and 89.  There is no age given for the remaining death. 

Iceland is proving to be one of the "canaries" in the coal mine when it comes to the current pandemic.  The nation's pandemic management appears to be setting the gold standard when it comes to "flattening the curve" and preventing their health care system from being overwhelmed.  Thanks to its ability to test a very high proportion of its citizens, particularly when compared to its advanced nation peer group, it is looking like Iceland is well on the way to resolving its crisis.