No, Norway did not reclassify COVID-19 as a flu

Image courtesy WhatsApp

A misleading social media post claims the country considers COVID-19 no more dangerous than the ordinary flu

Update: Paragraph added on 5 September 2021 to include link to Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) website.

The ‘COVID-19-is-a-flu’ lie continues to circulate in a new guise. 

A viral post that looks like a news report claims that Norwegian health authorities have decided that COVID-19 is no more dangerous than “influenza or the cold virus”. 

The post came to the attention of Namibia Fact Check via WhatsApp and appears to have been circulating in Namibian WhatsApp and other social media groups.

The viral post claims the following:

Screenshot of a post that has gone viral globally claiming that Norway has reclassified COVID-19 as a flu.

This latest false claim comparing COVID-19 to the flu has been debunked by fact checkers since it first started circulating online in late September 2021. 

The facts

The false claim appears to have followed the publication of an interview with a Norwegian public health official that was published by Norwegian news website VG on 20 September 2021.

The VG interview was with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) assistant director and vaccine manager, Geir Bukholm.

The translated headline and introduction of a story by Norwegian website VG.

However, the text of the viral post, which mimics a news report, that emerged on Namibian WhatsApp mirrors an article that was published by a website called ‘World Today News’, according to American fact checker PolitiFact.  

In an article published on 30 September 2021, PolitiFact indicated that they had interviewed an NIPH official and that it was stated to them that Bukholm “did not say that the coronavirus is no more dangerous than the flu. He said that most vaccinated people who are infected with the virus experience only cold-like symptoms”. ​ 

“It is not correct that the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has claimed that ‘Covid-19 is no more dangerous than ordinary flu,’” said a spokesperson for the institute.

– PolitiFact

It is clear from multiple fact check articles of the claim attributed to the Norwegian health official that his statements have been misrepresented by various online media outlets.

Furthermore, there is no statement on the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) website speaking to the classification of COVID-19 as no more dangerous than “influenza or the cold virus”.

For more fact checks of the claim, see here, here and here.


The statements, information and/or data referenced in this article have been assessed and found to be false.

4th October 2021

Frederico Links

Frederico Links is the editor and lead researcher of Namibia Fact Check and a research associate at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)