This page discusses infectious disease research in Norway and provides information on relevant health authorities and initiatives. In addition, the page offers a collection of key considerations for researchers such as regulations for data handling and disease control. For resources and guidelines related to general research data management in Norway, please visit Norway’s national resources page on RDMkit.
Health Authorities in Norway
The Norwegian Directorate of Health (Helsedirektoratet) and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Folkehelseinstituttet, referred to as FHI from here onwards) work jointly to provide an effective and coordinated effort towards the prevention and control of infectious diseases. The agencies also ensure that public health data is collected, stored, and shared in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
The Directorate of Health monitors public health issues to develop national guidelines and strategies for surveillance, prevention, and response activities. Together with local health authorities and healthcare providers, the directorate implements relevant policies and communicates these guidelines to the public. The directorate coordinated the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, establishing national recommendations for testing, tracing, and isolation.
The FHI advises health authorities on public health issues, including disease prevention, outbreak control, and preparedness for national health emergencies. The institute works with the Directorate of Health to develop vaccination programs, guide infection control measures, and support healthcare providers and related institutions. The Division of Infection Control within FHI supports infectious disease research, monitors infectious disease outbreaks, and analyses data related to these outbreaks. During the recent pandemic, FHI published a handbook for medical researchers to understand the handling of SARS-CoV-2 variants data.
Several governmental organisations collaborate with FHI to monitor pathogenic data and support surveillance initiatives:
- The Norwegian Environment Agency (or Miljødirektoratet, in Norwegian) oversees detection of pathogens in wastewater and tracks occurrences of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in natural areas and wild species.
- The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) plays a key role in managing and preventing infectious disease outbreaks that occur within the country’s food chain. The authority guides and drafts legislations related to food and drinking water, oversees the production and distribution processes of all food in Norway, and investigates and tracks pathogens found in drinking water and domestic animals. On behalf of the Food Safety Authority, the national reference laboratories collect data on isolated infectious agents from disease outbreaks related to the food chain and submit it to surveillance databases.
- The Norwegian Medicines Agency (Legemiddelverket) regulates and supervises medicine, medical devices, and clinical trials in Norway.
In addition to the national-level health authorities and agencies, there are regional/municipality-level efforts taking place across hospitals in Norway to combat infectious diseases:
- The Norwegian National Advisory Unit on Tropical Infectious Diseases(webpage in Norwegian) contributes to tropical infectious disease research, standards, and training. They are responsible for reporting on and mapping imported tropical infectious diseases as part of a larger European network.
- The Influenza Centre for Western Norway focuses on the development and evaluation of influenza vaccines, as well as the characterisation of immune responses after vaccination and infection. In 2020, they expanded their research to cover the COVID-19 outbreak and vaccine development. The Influenza Centre for Western Norway (Influensasenteret) is a collaboration between FHI, the University of Bergen, and Haukeland University Hospital
Norway has four regional health authorities:
Disease surveillance initiatives
The European Joint Programme One Health is a research program across Europe that promotes collaborative actions on foodborne zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance, and emerging threats. FHI and the Norwegian Veterinary Institute lead or contribute to several related projects. Project index on CRIStin (2018-22)
- NOVA – Novel approaches for design and evaluation of cost-effective surveillance across the food chain. (2018-2020)
- MATRIX: Connecting dimensions in One-Health surveillance (2020-2022)
- NORSE - Network for One Health Resistome Surveillance (2020-2023)
- CORNELIA: AMR in One Health Interfaces (2021-2024)
FHI maintains numerous projects related to infectious diseases both nationally and internationally:
- Avløpsovervåking SARS-CoV-2 is a wastewater monitoring project with regularly updated results to better understand the spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants. Project index on CRIStin (2022-2023)
- The Norwegian influenza study (NorFlu) studies effects of influenza vaccination, illness, and treatment during pregnancy. Project index on CRIStin (2010-2025)
- Corona-Reg studies the long-term health effects of Covid-19 and the Covid-19 pandemic on the Norwegian population. Project index on CRIStin (2020-2025)
- Covid-19 utbrudd i Norge- Epidemiologi, bruk av helsetjenester og håndtering i primærhelsetjenesten – CONOPRI investigates handling of the Covid-19 pandemic by primary health care services. Project index on CRIStin (2020-2025)
- Building Stronger Public Health Institutions and Systems (BIS) aims to strengthen public health in Norway and abroad. Project index on CRIStin (2021-2025)
- Consolidation of the HERA-WGS-infrastructure and capacity building at NIPH to enhance microbial surveillance and preparedness. Project index on CRIStin (2022-2025)
- Infeksjonssykdommers epidemiologi i Østfold analyses registry-based information on infectious diseases in Norway, especially Østfold. Project index on CRIStin (2016-2026)
- Weekly reports for COVID-19, influenza, and other respiratory tract infections
- National Strategy against Antibiotic Resistance 2015-2020 (in PDF).
- The renewed (2020) Norwegian National Strategy against Antimicrobial Resistance
- Overview of Norwegian Environment Agency reports on antimicrobial resistance in nature (in Norwegian)
- The NORM/NORM-VET report on antimicrobial use and resistance in Norway (2012) (in PDF).
Dashboards and visualisation platforms
Several national registries involved in tracking infectious disease cases have their own dashboards for viewing data. All these platforms are available in Norwegian only:
Norwegian Surveillance System for Communicable Diseases (MSIS) shows registered cases of infectious diseases in Norway by month, year, age, region, and more. The data is also available in table format.
Norwegian Surveillance System for Antimicrobial Drug Resistance (NORM) atlas visualizes NORM database entries from blood, urine, wound and respiratory test samples over time, divided by regions.
National data sources
The FHI operates following national electronic reporting systems that are involved in surveillance of infectious diseases. Healthcare providers and laboratories use these systems to register cases, allowing health authorities to access data in real-time.
Norwegian Surveillance System for Communicable Diseases (MSIS)
MSIS collects data on infectious diseases in Norway. The registry provides a comprehensive overview of the incidence, distribution, and trends of infectious diseases. FHI uses the data to monitor disease outbreaks, identify emerging threats, and evaluate the effectiveness of infectious disease control measures.
Norwegian Surveillance System for Antibiotic Use and Hospital-Acquired Infections (NOIS)
NOIS (webpage in Norwegian) monitors the occurrence of hospital-acquired infections and tracks the use of antibiotics within Norwegian health services. Public health authorities use the registry to identify areas of concern within infection control measures to limit the spread of infections and the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Norwegian Surveillance System for Viral Resistance (RAVN)
RAVN tracks antiviral resistance to viruses that present a significant public health concern in Norway. Healthcare providers and local microbiological laboratories submit both suspected and confirmed cases for genotypic analysis and phenotypic resistance testing, typically at national reference laboratories.
Norwegian Surveillance System for Antimicrobial Drug Resistance (NORM)
NORM monitors antimicrobial resistance (AMR) incidences in humans over time. Its partner project NORM-VET tracks AMR in animals, food, and animal feed.
As the Norwegian node for the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network, the University Hospital of North Norway (UNN) operates a national health registry that collects and processes AMR data. FHI manages data handling. To access the data, you need to print out and mail an application available on UNN’s website - available in Norwegian only.
Access to the registries
Since the registries contain data that can potentially be linked to individuals, you have to apply for access. Applications are free for students (up to master’s level) who want to access anonymous aggregated data. Access to other types of data, including access to personally identifiable data is subject to a fee. The Health Data Service (Helsedataservice) at the Norwegian Directorate of e-Health handles the applications.
Data from biobanks
In addition to health registries, Biobank Norway serves as a national data source and it is part of the European biobanking research infrastructure (BBMRI-ERIC) that maintains clinical and population-based data including infectious disease data. For a collection of DNA and sample cultures, the microbiology portal (mikrobiologiportalen) provides a database of various bacterial and viral species, including a collection of methods for antigen-antibody detection methods performed across laboratories.
The Section for Public Health within the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services (in Norwegian: Helse- og omsorgsdepartementet) oversees FHI and emergency preparedness for infectious disease outbreaks. The ministry’s Department of Health Legislation enacts regulations that provide a legal framework for disease outbreak response and other public health emergencies.
Norway introduced the infectious disease control act back in 1994; the act addresses various considerations, such as health measures and risk assessments of infectious diseases for the prevention of transmission. You can read the latest version of the act at Protection against infectious diseases act (Smittevernloven 1994) (in Norwegian). Past experiences with epidemics and pandemics have taught us that emergency preparations are absolutely necessary. That is where the Health preparedness act (Helseberedskapsloven 2000) (in Norwegian) applies. It addresses considerations for preparedness plans that could help health and care services and legal authorities to control outbreaks of infectious diseases.
The recent SARS-CoV-2 pandemic brought about new challenges for the country that resulted in the establishment of new regulations, for example, in region to quarantine rules and the administration of vaccinations. The new regulations were published as changes to the infectious disease control act and health preparedness act, read more at: Changes to reflect handling the coronavirus pandemic (2021) (in Norwegian).
The Norwegian Data Protection Authority (Datatilsynet) is an independent body that oversees the processing of personal data in Norway, including data related to public health and infectious disease outbreaks. Datatilsynet upholds compliance with Norwegian data protection laws and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union. The regulations for sensitive/personal research data and clinical data, in Norway, are implemented in the Health Research Act (Helseforskningsloven). RDMkit provides general data management guidelines for handling of sensitive data and human data.
When it comes to scientific research, Norges Forskningsråd (Research Council of Norway) has a policy that requires open access to research data (revised 2017, in PDF). The council highlights the importance of open science with useful resources.
Domain-specific infrastructures or resources
- The Norwegian Institute of Public Health’s Antibiotic Committee (Folkehelseinstituttets antibiotikakomitéen). The FHI provides a general information and resources on antibiotic resistance, useful for the public, researchers, and health service professionals alike.
- CAMRIA (Combatting Antimicrobial Resistance with Interdisciplinary Approaches), launched at the University of Bergen (UiB), is a research centre with multiple partners (Haukeland University Hospital and Stavanger University Hospital) that work together to address AMR topics in the context of microbial genomics and related areas.
- The National Advisory Unit on Detection of Antimicrobial Resistance (K-res) provides laboratory-based services for the detection and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in Norway. The unit offers diagnostic and advisory services, trains healthcare professionals, and advises on appropriate antibiotic distribution and use.
- Norwegian Society for Medical Microbiology (Norsk forening for medisinsk mikrobiologi (NFMM) is a national association to bring together experts from medical microbiology fields for knowledge-exchange. NFMM also provides a database of clinical laboratories that take care of infectious disease, pathogen, and related sampling.
Institutional initiatives on antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
There are multiple national research projects focused on pathogenomics to benefit agriculture, food, public health, environment, and biodiversity in Norway. Also, higher education institutions and industrial organisations have forums and research centres dedicated to addressing the topics of antimicrobial resistance and pandemic preparedness:
- PathoSeq, a project on sequencing pathogenic bacteria for food safety. More information is available on the University of Oslo PathoSeq page.
- Interdisciplinary Forum for Research on Antimicrobial resistance (INFRA), University of Oslo
- The Antibiotic Centre for Primary Care, University of Oslo
- The Centre for new antibacterial strategies (CANS) at the Arctic University of Norway (UiT) comprises 16 research groups across three faculties, dedicated to AMR-related marine bioprospecting, pharmacology, and surveillance. Project index on CRIStin
Institutional initiatives on epidemic/pandemic research
- Pandemic Centre at the University of Bergen aims to address the topic of how to handle and prevent pandemics, and raise awareness through knowledge-exchange activities.
- Centre for Epidemic Interventions Research (CEIR), at the FHI, works towards understanding and further improving epidemic preparedness and risk control.
In addition to national and municipality-level efforts, Norway has also been involved in international projects and initiatives to help address infectious disease control and contribute to research in the field. This includes:
- Network for One Health Resistome Surveillance (NORSE).
- Nordic Vets Against AMR (Article by Sternberg-Lewerin et al (2022)
- Nordic Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (NSCMID)
- Nordic Ovine Research, Surveillance and Epidemiology, part of the Nordic Joint Committee for Agricultural and Food Research.
Tools and resources
Tailored to users in Norway
Developed and/or deployed by institutions and organisations in Norway.Skip tool table
Norwegian SARS-CoV-2 database
Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) portal for infectious disease information
Federated European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA) node
European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA)