Those working scientifically on SARS-CoV-2 are always confronted with unknown factors. But the longer the pandemic continues, the more data becomes available. This is also the case with the currently prevailing omicron wave.
But what will come after that? How will this variant spread around the world? And when will the wave level off again? The German star virologist Christian Drosten, for example, in the NDR Corona podcast on February 1, saw the “time for easing has not yet come” and does not expect easing until after Easter.
Half of the world will be infected
Researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle (USA) look even further ahead in a paper published in January in the journal The Lancet. They expect that by March 2022, around 50 percent of the world’s population will be infected with the highly contagious Omikron virus. One reason for this, they say, is that about 40 percent of infections are asymptomatic.
Due to the high infectiousness of the Omicron variant, the IHME researchers see a limiting effect through measures such as mandatory masks or the expansion of vaccinations. Model calculations would show: If 80 percent of the population wore masks, that would reduce infections by only 10 percent over the next four months. According to the calculations, more substantial effects can be expected in countries where the omicron wave has not yet broken out.
However, scientists repeatedly contradict this. Consistent adherence to hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing, distance, or even the wearing of FFP-2 masks, does indeed contribute to reducing infections.
The modelers’ calculations also take into account the fact that new vaccines will be launched on the market and used in many countries in the coming months. Adding in the high levels of those infected through proper viral contact, they said, global levels can be expected to be at an “all-time high” “for some time.”
“For some weeks or months, the world can expect low levels of virus transmission,” writes IHME author Christopher J. L. Murray.
All of these factors, plus the adaptation of vaccines to new virus variants and the knowledge that vulnerable people and high-risk patients can do a good job of protecting themselves in future waves (such as physical distance, highly protective masks), allow for a different assessment than before, according to Murray.
SARS-CoV-2 will have less of an impact on health and health systems in the future, he said. “Covid-19 will be a recurrent disease that health systems and societies will have to deal with.”
With the Omicron variant, deaths in most countries appear to be similar to a severe flu epidemic. Covid-19 will return to Omicron, he said. “But the pandemic will not do that,” he said.
- source: kurier.at/picture: pixabay.com
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