Prediction: Fourth wave comes with ‘high probability’

The Covid-19 Forecast Consortium expects a fourth wave of CoV. Thanks to the “increased transmissibility” of the delta variant, it will be “with a high degree of probability,” according to a policy briefing on behalf of the Department of Health yesterday. But the timing and extent of this wave are unclear.

Vaccination coverage needs ‘top priority’

Expanding vaccination coverage (full immunization) must therefore be a ‘top priority’. The consortium asserted that from the available data (particularly from Great Britain) it can be concluded that “the delta variant is significantly more transmissible than the previously dominant alpha variant (B.1.1.7)”.

The draft report mentions the mask requirement

In the initial report, now also available to the APA, it is recommended that the mask requirement be reintroduced, if possible with the FFP2 standard, if the number of cases increases. A risk-adjusted 7-day incidence of 253 is indicated as a cut-off – of course, this is currently out of reach. This high value was last reached at the end of March.

With increased hospitalizations in regular wards, “social distancing” is recommended. If the number of Covid-19 people in intensive care units continues to rise, re-introduction of the “lockdown light” will also be considered, although this is described as an “unlikely scenario”.

The surrogate must identify case events in Austria

“Data from the variable monitoring system (…) indicate that the delta variable indeed dominates the case events in Austria,” the consortium wrote. “For week 25 (calendar week, note) the proportion of the delta variable in the incidence was already about 50 percent, at week 26 it was over 60 percent.”

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Experts are already expecting a “spread” similar to that in the UK in July. However, the consortium said: “A more accurate estimate of the speed of spread of a delta variant is fraught with a large degree of uncertainty due to the currently low number of cases.”

‘System critical’ occupancy in hospitals ‘unlikely’

“Despite the currently low incidence, a rapid increase in the delta variant can be assumed with the replacement of the alpha variant currently prevalent (…) in Austria. The consortium expects that a critical coating of the system in hospitals is unlikely in the summer of 2021. However, In the medium term, it remains to be seen whether weakness or diffusion factors prevail.

The consortium’s best-case scenario assumes a full vaccination rate of 80 percent, which will be achieved at around 80 percent of the vaccination rate as of June 2021. “It is unlikely that a pandemic wave threatens the system by the end of September,” she said.

The speed of vaccination is critical

If the pace is maintained, but only a 60 percent full vaccination rate is achieved, the use of ICUs critical to the system will remain highly unlikely. The key seems to be the speed of vaccination. At 60 percent full immunization and 60 percent vaccination rate in June 2021, there could also be a critical use of the system for intensive care units. However, experts consider this scenario unlikely.

“So increasing vaccination coverage and preparedness for vaccination in all population groups is essential,” she says. In addition, experts recommended that “measures that mean only minor restrictions on the population, but help to curb the increase in the number of cases, should be retained.” “This is especially true of maintaining a low threshold and a wide range of tests, primarily with PCR testing procedures.”

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