Corona events picked up speed. The incidence, which is already very high again, could still be moderate under the motto: What the hell, it doesn’t mean much anymore. Unfortunately, two other important key figures are also currently rising faster than would actually be expected under Omicron conditions.
Indicator 1, the incidence: as expected, high
Classic for evaluating the crown crisis: incidence – number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days.
For three weeks it has been increasing sharply in the Rems-Murr district, from 169 on 18 September to 616 on 6 October. For comparison: the fall wave of 2021 started later and picked up speed more slowly, from an incidence of 94 on October 8 to a whopping 200 at the end of October.
During the entire period of the pandemic, there was only a steeper growth than the current one in early 2022, when Omicron replaced the previous Delta variant: the incidence went from around 200 to around 800 in three weeks (and then over 1800 in the spring).
So the autumn wave of 2022 is under pressure, but that was to be expected: at the moment we hardly have any more measurements, it was completely different in autumn 2021. And then the Omicron reigns: very contagious, but not very dangerous.
In this regard: incidence alone is no longer a reliable parameter for classifying the corona situation. We need to take a closer look.
Indicator 2, incidence of hospitalizations: surprisingly high
How many of the newly infected people in the past seven days ended up in hospital? This is the incidence of hospitalization; this value is also given for 100,000, but not calculated for each district, but only for each federal state.
Prerequisite: Omicron is less dangerous than Delta, so the incidence of hospitalizations is currently expected to increase more slowly than in autumn 2021.
Problem: it’s the other way around. In autumn 2021, from the end of September it went from 2.3 to 3.4 in just under four weeks; a fairly flat rise as well as a low overall level. The peak was then reached in early December with 6.6. Currently, however, the incidence of hospitalizations has risen from 1.4 to 7.0 in less than three weeks since 19 September.
This value has only been calculated daily for Baden-Württemberg since September 2021, so exact data are not available for the first phase of the pandemic. However, the highest level determined so far is that of March 2022: 8.1.
Key figure 2 – also in the Rems-Murr-Kliniken many hopsitalized
Surprisingly many hospitalized: this trend can also be observed in Rems-Murr clinics. There are currently 80 people infected with Covid in hospital treatment at the same time. There were only more at the end of 2020, at the height of the second wave, that is, before vaccination: about 90.
Now one could argue: wait a minute, the incidence of hospitalization is significant only to a limited extent. Because some of those affected may not have come to the clinic due to Covid, but due to other complaints – and they tested positive on the side only.
Dr Torsten Ade, chief physician of the interdisciplinary emergency room at Rems-Murr-Klinikum Winnenden, points out: Yes, that’s right, most of these patients have “other diseases that are in the foreground, almost all suffer from chronic diseases”. Only: “In people who are already in poor health on good days, that is, without further infection, a viral infection, even if the symptoms are not severe, can lead to worsening of other diseases” – and it is precisely that “we see regularly”.
Key figure 3, ICU beds occupied: surprisingly many
How many people infected with Covid are currently in intensive care units? In fact, it is expected to be less this fall than it will be at the end of 2021, as Omicron rules.
A look at Baden-Württemberg: as recently as September 11, the value was still at its lowest, lower than it had been for a long time, namely 52. Since then it has risen to 144 in just under four weeks.
In the fall of 2021 it went from the bottom (about 30 ICU patients in mid-September) flatter: to about 100 in mid-October. The situation then precipitated dramatically: at the end of December, 642 intensive care beds were occupied by Covid patients nationwide.
Even with indicator 3, we currently have a surprisingly significant increase – in Rems-Murr clinics, however, this trend is currently only rudimentary reflected: there are currently five infected patients in the ICU, two of whom need ventilation.
Torsten Ade again: “The classic lung disease requiring oxygen” is now “quite the rare exception”. In the intensive care unit, too, these are mostly high-risk pre-ill patients whose already precarious health has deteriorated dangerously due to the viral infection burdened on it.
Urgent question: why are the metrics so high?
Why do we currently have more hospitalizations than would actually be expected? Could it be because Omikron is suddenly hitting harder than expected?
Quite not. There is no evidence available that the current omicron B.A5 dominant line triggers significantly more severe disease progression. Another explanation seems more plausible.
Currently, it can be assumed that far more people are infected than the incidence statistics suggest. Many infections fly under the radar; they remain undetected or at least not reserved because they are asymptomatic or, despite some symptoms, are not verified by a PCR test. If we were currently testing as much as in the early stages of the pandemic, the incidence in the Rems-Murr district would likely already be in the four-digit range.
But if the infection process has a significantly greater thrust than the officially registered one, it logically follows that there are more severe courses.