Could the omicron wave pass as fast as it started? In Britain, where the viral variant already dominated the infection rate in December last year, the situation now appears to be calming down.
The number of new corona infections each day is slowly decreasing. Scientists are seeing the first indications that the wave of infections may have peaked.
The omicron wave had calmed down just as quickly in South Africa, where the virus variant was first detected. After about a month, the country had lifted almost all of the restrictions that had been introduced to protect against the corona virus. Masks and distancing rules have been retained. In the United States, too, the infection rate may soon drop. Modeling from the University of Washington predicts the number of infections will peak at 1.2 million by January 19. After that, the numbers would drop dramatically, “simply because anyone who could be infected will be infected,” said Ali Mokdad, professor of health measures.
And what about Germany? Could the wave of Omikron variant infections in this country also be halted in just a month?
The Omicron wave is slowly gaining momentum
Compared to neighboring European countries, the Omikron wave is developing quite slowly in Germany. This means that the infection rate has not yet progressed that far, so Omikron is not yet as widespread as in Britain, for example. This is mainly due to the different corona strategies of the two countries. While the UK has yet to toughen its measures despite the high number of cases, Germany has retained, and in some cases even stepped up, its protective measures that have already shattered the delta wave.
“There have been a lot of calls, politicians have taken appropriate action, both of which have certainly slowed the Omikron tide somewhat,” Martin Stürmer, virologist and lab manager at the lab, said a few days ago. IMD of Interdisciplinary Medicine and Diagnosis in Frankfurt. to the Germany editorial network (RND). “I’m sure if we hadn’t done anything, or less, the wave would have come sooner.”
Immunologist: incidences of 1000 possible
The magnitude of the Omikron wave will therefore only become apparent in Germany in the days and weeks to come. The high number of new infections is yet to come. “We will get incidences well above 1000 – the national average, well above at the regional level,” said Carsten Watzl, secretary general of the German Society for Immunology, in an interview with the German news agency he a few days ago. For comparison: the national incidence over seven days is currently 427.7. If Watzl’s predictions come true, it would mean that more than twice as many people will be infected with the coronavirus than before. The immunologist suspects that the maximum of the omicron wave could be reached in February.
It cannot be predicted today how long it will take for the infection rate to decline. In the end, it will be the immunity of the population that will be decisive. In Britain, when Omikron spread across the country, more people were fully vaccinated than in Germany. The booster vaccination campaign has also progressed. So there were already a lot of people who were protected against the coronavirus. Additionally, the more negligent corona strategy resulted in some level of contamination. This has led many Britons to become infected with the pathogen and thus develop immunity.
The inoculation collection makes the difference
In German vaccination statistics, however, there is a clear gap. A quarter of Germans are still not vaccinated. That’s 20.9 million people. “We have too many unvaccinated people in Germany, especially those over 60,” said Christian Drosten, virologist at Charité Berlin, in an interview with Deutschlandfunk at the end of December. “And of course they are in real danger.”
Because it has not yet been clearly established what course of the disease Omikron causes in unvaccinated people, especially those at risk. Although data from other countries have shown that Omikron causes less severe disease outcomes, it is questionable to what extent these findings can be transferred to Germany.
“For those who have not been vaccinated in particular, Omikron can also lead to very severe developments that will put a strain on us in the intensive care unit,” Clemens Wendtner, Chief Infectious Disease Physician, said last week. and tropical medicine at the Munich Clinic Schwabing. the Science Media Center. He believes the Omikron wave will put more pressure on clinics in particular.
Omikron wreaks havoc on UK clinics
Even though Omikron causes less severe cases, the variant of the virus is so contagious that it will infect many people in a short time, who will then have to isolate themselves. The Federal Government’s Expert Council warns that this could cripple critical infrastructure such as hospitals and emergency services. This worst-case scenario happened in Britain: many clinic workers were absent due to infection, so there were long wait times in front of emergency rooms and a number foreseeable operations had to be postponed.
Omikron wave takes PCR testing labs to capacity limits
Medical laboratories in Germany are increasingly approaching the limits of their capacity utilization during the corona crisis, according to an industry association. © dpa
The omicron wave in the UK may appear to have broken, but the hospital chaos persists. Just because numbers in the island state are dropping doesn’t mean no one will be infected or contract Covid-19. The situation remains tense.
How Germany ultimately survives the Omikron wave will depend on how many people are vaccinated or boosted against Covid-19 in the days and weeks to come and how politicians respond to the spread of the virus variant. “If the burden of the high number of infections and staff absences becomes too high in the foreseeable future, further intensification of contact restrictions will be necessary in the short term,” advises the Expert Council in its current statement. But the preparations politicians are making to secure critical infrastructure will also matter.