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In a horrible winter storm over night, the same day that the Island got its first case of the korona 28. feb, let the snow like a cold blanket over the island. Roads were closed, and tynnkledde tourists searched in vain shelter from the snøfokken in Reykjavik.

But Iceland is famous for standing in the storm, in emergencies and rough weather. The country has shaken off a volcanic eruption and a financial crisis, which blew the economy of the end.

Now is a new crisis for the trip.

– We have an epidemic that is destroying our country. The economy collapses because of this. People are put in quarantine. And people have begun to die, ” says Karí Stefánsson.

– We decided to contribute to screening the population who have not been attacked by the disease yet, ” says Karí Stefánsson, ceo of deCODE genetics.

Photo: Martin Holvik / NRK

The 71-year-old islendingen is a researcher and head of the genselskapet deCODE genetics, or “Íslensk erfðagreining” in icelandic. He offered quickly, his help to the authorities.

– It is our civil duty to do what we can to combat the virus.

the Number of koronatilfeller increased sharply in the week after the first case, and the country declared a state of emergency. The norwegians who had been on the island, was set directly in the quarantine. With retroactive effect.

Snow-covered streets in Reykjavik.

Photo: Martin Holvik / NRK

Now take the Island in use special scientific methods to learn the most possible about the virus, including storskalatesting. The latest official figures show that Iceland has tested soon 12 000 for koronaviruset.

With a population of 360 000 inhabitants, giving it the highest percentage of tested people per million inhabitants in the world.

Iceland tops the list of the number of tested persons per million inhabitants among the scandinavian countries.

Photo: Our World in Data For the population

– Almost all countries are currently testing people who have symptoms of the virus, or have been in contact with someone who comes from a høyrisikoland. We on the other hand, we screened the entire population, ” says Karí Stefánsson.

Genselskapet set up an open påmeldingstjeneste on the net. The influx was huge. One that came through the eye of the needle was Arnar Thor Ingolfsson, who lives and works in Reykjavík.

– I didn’t know if I could have the disease without knowing it. There I would be sure. And I would like to contribute to the science, which I hope they can use something, ” he says.

Arnar Thor Ingolfsson was completely healthy, but was still testing for the korona.

< p> “Good day, do you have symptoms?”

Arnar Thor Ingolfsson met morgentrøtt up at 08: 30 in the testbygningen, a tall modern building next to a shopping centre. There he was greeted by an employee from the deCODE with mask and additional control issues:

“Good day, do you have any symptoms?”, “Are you in quarantine?”.

After having answered no on both questions, got Ingolfsson drop in and took the elevator up to the fourth floor.

I came into a laboratory where at least 30 people had on full smittevernsutstyr. So I was taken into a cubicle and the two employees stuck it far down in the nose and pharynx. I was surprised how far down the neck they were able to get it. The whole thing was over in six to eight minutes. So I went to work.

Photo: deCODE

Same day got Arnar Thor Ingolfsson test result: Negative for koronaviruset.

But what it should really be good to test the people who Ingolfsson, who do not have symptoms at all?

Karí Stefannson explains.

– Health care and hospitals are now taking samples of those with symptoms who are at high risk, but we need to know how large percentage of the population that is infected in general.

In this way can Island get clarity in two scientific questions:

Before the first, how many of them that seem to be infected actually has the virus? Secondly, how broad is the spread of the virus in general in the community?

Stefánsson points out that means the authorities are trying to use is to limit the virus. He believes there is little point in trying this instrument, if the surveys should show that the virus is already wide spread in the society and the healthy population.

– you Find out that 50 per cent of the general population have the virus, there is no point to try to prevent it, since it has released into the community. Shall we do this research-based manner, it helps tremendously to have the numbers.

– first You need to know what it is you should limit. And you don’t know what you should limit if you do not have the information about how the virus spreads generelts, ” he says.

Since the deCODE began with the testing 13. march has 6163 islendere without koronasymptomer been investigated.

52 of the samples proved to be positive for Covid-19.

To do the same in Norway

Frode Forland confirms that similar studies are on time in Norway.

Photo: the Norwegian directorate of Health

– I knew not these results from Iceland. This is very interesting to see, ” says medical director for infection control at the Norwegian institute of public health, Frode Forland of the Norwegian broadcasting corporation.

He has shared the results further to Camilla Stoltenberg and his colleagues at FHI.

It will be very useful to do a similar type of study in Norway. This is not just something we want to do, this is something that will be done. We work only with to get it in place with a view of execution and financing, ” says Forland.

He referred to two initiatives to similar studies at the University of Oslo and the UiT Norway’s arctic university.

Until now such studies in Norway have been limited by the testkapasitet. In order to get significant results, he believes it will be necessary to have a correct and representative sample, and shows that on the Island, they have tested over 5,000 healthy individuals.

– What do you see as the biggest advantage to koronateste healthy people who are not in quarantine in the Uk?

– It is to be able to find is this mørketallet of how many are infected that we don’t know about as of now. We know how many we have tested positive, but of these we have the sought out because they have symptoms. And if you get tested people in general, so you know whether or not this spreads without people knowing about it though.

‘ve found 44 mutations only on the Island

Testing on the Island have given an advantage to the. Each positive sample has been sent to the genlaboratoriet to deCODE, where 30 employees work on the blast.

Here is identifying the RNA code of the virus, i.e. the genome. The analysis is called sequencing. On the way can scientists find the different varieties of koronaviruset, therefore, how the virus mutates.

– Until now, we have found 44 different mutations of the virus that only is described here on the Island. We have already sequenced 360 positive samples. Towards the end of the week we have approximately 600-700 samples sequenced, ” says Stefánsson.

– Will these mutations of the virus make it more or less dangerous for us humans?

It is too early to say. These mutations are probably neutral. But it also means that we can track the virus as it spreads in the community.

One of the most positive korona-samples differed in particular stands out, ” says Stefánsson .

We found a person who had two variants of the virus at the same time, both with and without the mutation. It turned out that all this person had infected moreover, had been infected with the mutated variant. It can indicate the mutated variation makes the virus more contagious, ” says Stefánsson.

Until now, two persons died of koronaviruset on the Island, a tourist with unusual symptoms and a an icelander. The government has introduced strict measures to begresne the spread of the virus.

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