From Iceland — COVID-19 Screening Will Move From Random Sampling To Targeted Groups

COVID-19 Screening Will Move From Random Sampling To Targeted Groups

Published August 4, 2020

Catherine Magnúsdóttir
Photo by

Screening for COVID-19 in Iceland will now be focusing on targeted groups who have potentially been exposed to the virus instead of random samples of the population.

This information was disclosed in a RÚV interview with Kári Stefánsson, CEO of deCODE Genetics. According to him, deCODE’s current analysis has revealed that 16 unconnected individuals have the same mutation pattern of the virus. “And it is this one type of virus that is conquering the country,” Kári explains.

What happens next?

Yesterday, Kári attended a meeting with Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason, Chief of Police Víðir Reynisson, Director of Public Health Alma Möller, and Professor of Biometrics Thor Aspelund. The purpose of said meeting was, as he explains, “to discuss the situation and try to imagine what will happen next and what we at deCODE could contribute to gathering information about this.”

The screening of the targeted groups will be a collaboration between deCODE and the infection control team, which is said to have so far been successful, according to a report from mbl.

However, while border screening seems to be working well, the current infection clusters indicate that a lot of the current infections are domestic ones being passed from person to person within Icelandic society.

Thor, in an interview with Fréttablaðið, emphasises that the recent developments are a cause for concern, as the number of unrelated infections raises questions about whether the virus is more widespread than originally thought.

“There must be some people that we don’t know about who are sick. This is a rather difficult situation now and we need to be a little careful,” says Thor, but adds that the next few weeks will give a clearer picture of where the epidemic is heading.

The current data

According to a report by Vísir, there are now as many active infections in Iceland as there were back on March 10th. To compare, on March 4th, when the first domestic infection was detected, a total of 24 were in isolation with COVID-19. The next day there were 37. In a five-day period, from March 6th to 10th, the number of active infections increased from 47 to 82. These figures from March are very similar to the development of the last five days, but since July 29th, the number of active infections has increased from 39 to 83.

These 83 people are currently in isolation, while 734 are in quarantine, according to recent data on

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!