Biostatistician Tom Wenseleers (KU Leuven): ‘Omikron can infect 40 to 50 percent of the population’ – Politics

Biostatistician Tom Wenseleers (KU Leuven): 'Omikron can infect 40 to 50 percent of the population' - Politics

Now that infection numbers have risen sharply and hospital admissions are also tending to the top again, Omikron will rule the country for the next few weeks. There is a fear of waiting to see if the care will continue. “Epidemiologists are holding their breath, as the rapid increase in numbers again hits the limited hospital capacity,” says Tom Wenslers, a biostatistician at KU Leuven.

Omicron is less pathogenic than the delta variant. Can that convince us?

Tom Winsellers: “We are in danger of falling victim to the law of large numbers because we face a wall of infection. Even if Omicron is half as sick as Delta, as the latest data suggest, the low hospitalization rate will not adequately compensate for the massive increase in infections. The burden on healthcare is at risk. to become very high.The individual risk from omikron is relatively small and comparable to influenza, but for healthcare, and all other patients who need urgent care, the risk is much higher because the number of infections will be much higher than with influenza.Models from researchers at the London School of Hygiene show And tropical medicine has shown that 40 to 50 per cent of the population could develop oomicron in the coming months. That around 0.5 per cent of that in the UK could end up in hospital, and the biggest problem is the concentration in a short period of time. If Half of the population had the flu in the same month, healthcare would be flooded, too.

Can a booster campaign reduce the number of injuries and hospital admissions?

Tom Winsellers: “The booster campaign has already been factored into these expectations, and in any case, boosters are the best way now to significantly reduce the risk of serious disease. Protection against symptomatic disease declines relatively rapidly after the third injection, because the vaccine is not available.” Specifically for the omikron variant, but protection against serious diseases will remain longer.However, there is little doubt that a fourth injection with an adapted vaccine will also follow.The hope is also that the clinical picture of covid-19 will become milder wave by wave as our immune system improves And it’s better trained, but we still have the fundamental problem of infection increasing too quickly when hospitals’ buffer capacity is too low. So far, a variable has appeared every six months. So we must strive toward a structural solution by being able to adapt vaccines faster. With new variables, and at the moment this process is still time consuming. Including quality control of the modified mRNA vaccine at Pfizer is now a month and a half later. However, the complex approval procedures remain a bottleneck. By the time In which a vaccine adapted to a new variant can be given, we will be a few more Greek letters in the alphabet. With seasonal influenza, due to alternating epidemics in the northern and southern hemispheres, we always have six months to adapt the vaccines. Unfortunately, we don’t have that time with the coronavirus.

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On the plus side, maybe an omicron will run out faster than a delta?

Tom Winsellers: “Omicron spreads much faster than delta, not because omicron is intrinsically more infectious, but because omicron can evade our immunity better and also because the incubation period appears to be shorter. According to a South Korean study, omikron can migrate after 2.2 days, compared to 4 days in Variable delta condition This means that the pollution curve goes up faster, but it will also go down faster.The short incubation period also means that the classic testing and traceability policy becomes very challenging.Rapid tests can prove their value, even if they are not 100% waterproof The shorter incubation period also makes sense to shorten the duration of the quarantine, but I would strive to require two negative rapid tests upon return from quarantine.This could be a solution to the loss of staff due to infection and quarantine in critical sectors.

Tom Winsellers: “We are in danger of falling victim to the law of large numbers because we face a wall of infection. Even if Omicron is half as disgusting as Delta, as the latest data indicates, the low hospitalization rate will not be enough to offset the sharp increase in the number of infections. The burden on healthcare at risk of becoming very high. The individual risk of omikron is relatively limited and comparable to influenza, but for healthcare and all other patients who need urgent care, the risk is much higher because the number of infections will be much higher than with influenza, models from researchers at the London School of Hygiene show and tropical medicine that 40 to 50 per cent of the population could become infected with oomicron in the coming months. Figures from the UK estimate that about 0.5 per cent of that could end up in hospital, the biggest problem is the concentration in a short period of time.If half the population is infected With the flu in the same month, healthcare would sink too.” Tom Winsellers: “The booster has already been factored into these expectations, and boosters are the best way now to dramatically reduce mucus. t have serious diseases. Protection against symptomatic disease decreases relatively quickly after the third vaccine, because the vaccine is not specific to the omicron variant, but protection against severe disease remains longer. However, there is no doubt that a fourth dose with a modified vaccine, and we also hope that the clinical picture of covid-19 will become more Moderation wave after wave as our immune system is getting better trained, but we still have the fundamental problem of infection increasing too quickly if the buffer capacity is too low in hospitals. So far, a variant has appeared every six months, so we should strive to find a structural solution by applying vaccines more quickly to adapt to the new variants. Now this process is still time consuming. In principle, the time required to produce the modified mRNA vaccine at Pfizer, including quality control, is now one and a half months. However, complex approval procedures remain a bottleneck. By the time a vaccine adapted to a new variant can be administered, we will have a few more Greek letters in the alphabet. With seasonal influenza, due to alternating epidemics in the northern and southern hemispheres, we always have six months to adapt the vaccines. Unfortunately, we don’t have that time with the coronavirus. Tom Wenseleers: “Omikron spreads much faster than delta, not because omikron is intrinsically more contagious, but because omikron can bypass our immunity better and also because the incubation time appears to be shorter. According to a South Korean study, omikron can be passed after 2.2 days. Compared to 4 days In the case of the delta variant.This means that the pollution curve goes up faster, but it will also go down faster.The short incubation period also means that the classic testing and traceability policy becomes very difficult.Rapid tests can prove their value,even though they are not waterproof 100 percent.The shorter incubation period also makes sense to shorten the duration of the quarantine, but I will strive to demand two negative rapid tests upon return from quarantine.This may be a solution to the loss of staff due to infection and the reduction of quarantine in critical sectors.

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