– We’re just coming off the fourth wave mainly caused by the Delta variant. This is the first wave in the history of the entire COVID-19 pandemic to reach its apogee and end naturally. At the moment, we estimate that over 90 percent. Poles became immune to Delta, thus we achieved collective immunity to this variant – says Interia, Dr. Franciszek Rakowski, head of the ICM modeling team at the University of Warsaw, member of the team for monitoring and forecasting epidemics at the minister of health.
Now it’s starting to spread in Poland variant of Omikron, which the Minister of Health described as “game changer” – a revolutionary element changing the rules of the game. The new variant is more contagious and is spreading rapidly in other countries. In Poland, from December 31 to January 10, the share of Omicron increased from 1.4 percent. up to 10 percent – we find out at the National Institute of Public Health.
– We can expect huge increases in infections, which is already happening in other European countries. Our model shows that in about four weeks, Omikron will be responsible for 90 percent. new infections in Poland – reveals a mathematician from the University of Warsaw.
MOCOS (Modeling Coronavirus Spread) also prepares its forecasts for the Ministry of Health. – They show that a clear increase in infections occurs in the second half of January – informs Interia, the head of the MOCOS group, Prof. Tyll Krüger.
Both specialists agree that we should expect daily readings that have not yet been recorded in any of the waves. – The forecasts for Poland show that the wave caused by the Omikron variant will be sudden and strong. Looking at France, Spain, Great Britain or Italy, for example, we can see that the situation has changed dramatically within two weeks. Record numbers have started to fall – says prof. Krüger.
In France, with a population of over 67 million, almost 330 thousand people were recorded last Friday. infections. In the USA, where almost 330 million people live, the number of people infected daily reaches over a million.
How many cases will we record in Poland, depends on several factors, including the testing potential, the level of resistance to the new variant and possible ones restrictionsthat could slow down the Omicron rushing in the population.
– Our models show that in three weeks we can observe a seven-day average of infections at the level of 50 thousand. cases – says the head of the MOCOS group. However, as he adds, if the level of performed tests was increased, this number could increase to 150-200 thousand. cases.
Dr. Franciszek Rakowski informs that UW models say about 150 thousand. infections daily. However, he stipulates that these numbers will not be captured if the number of tests performed does not increase significantly.
The National Institute of Public Health (NIZP) also prepared its forecasts. – They indicate the maximum values at the peak of the wave, around 120,000 per day, but in a wide range – between 50 and 150 thousand. cases – informs Interia, in turn, Anna Dela spokeswoman for the National Institute of Public Health – PZH.
Forecasts differ as to the date of the wave peak – from the second half of January to the second half of February.
Experts indicate that real number of infections, commonly known as the “gray area”, will be much higher. – At peak times, up to 800,000 people can become infected daily. people. Then we would have a lightning wave that would flood the entire society – says Dr. Rakowski from the University of Warsaw.
MOCOS has similar forecasts. – Our models also say about 800 thousand. even up to 1 million a day. This increase will be very sudden and will be seen over a period of several days. A week earlier and a week later, these numbers will be much lower. This can be seen on the example of South Africa, where there was a sudden and large increase, and then an equally sudden and large decrease – explains Prof. Tyll Krüger.
Omicron, although it is the most infectious of all variants spreading so far, less often it causes severe course of COVID-19. Experts assume that Omikron will cause 2/3 fewer hospitalizations than Delta. – When the Delta variant was spreading, we had over 30,000. infections daily and about 25 thousand. people in hospitals. For 90 thousand. Omikron’s identified cases will also be 25,000. hospitalization – explains Dr. Rakowski.
– Due to the fact that many people will probably become infected with Omikron in a short time, this may translate into a significant increase in hospitals – adds prof. Tyll Krüger. And it indicates that the increase in hospitalization can be seen, inter alia, in in the US, where the highest number of patients has been recorded since the start of the pandemic.
– These are alarming signals, that’s why we must be prepared for the darkest scenarios – underlines.
A catastrophic scenario mentioned by the Minister of Health himself, assumes that COVID-19 patients may need 60,000 beds. According to specialists, such a situation is real. – In our model, we indicate from 60 to 80 thousand. the need for beds to be occupied in the normal course of this wave. However, these are only preliminary estimates. We have to wait for the further development of the situation and how the number of new cases will translate into the number of hospitalizations – says Dr. Rakowski.
Experts note that the avalanche of infections will slow down the introduction of restrictions. Prof. Krüger believes that they are necessary. – Extending winter holidays for children, closing shopping malls, controlling the wearing of masks, or using more effective FFP2 masks – he enumerates.
– This wave will be lightning fast and this is the greatest threat. We’ll know more in two weeks. However once we observe an avalanche of infections, it may be too late to decide on restrictions. Therefore, I believe that they should collapse earlier to flatten this wave. This will give us time to assess the hospitalization rate we will achieve in Poland, says Dr. Rakowski.
According to specialists, this week is the time to monitor the development trend of the pandemic. In the next one, we should seriously think about the restrictions. – As soon as we notice a clear upward trend, we need to react. We cannot wait until the number of cases reaches around 30,000. per day, because then it will be too late to weaken the Omikron’s impact – warns a specialist from the MOCOS group.
Both teams submit their forecasts to the Ministry of Health.
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