Norway: “situation is more worrying now than in previous pandemic waves”

“The threat from Omicron is enormous”. NIPH director Camilla Stoltenberg says the Omicron variant of the coronavirus can cause a lot of infection and disease, “perhaps more than before in the pandemic”.

“It seems to be easier to infect vaccinated in addition to unvaccinated,” says Stoltenberg.

Stoltenberg says that it now seems that people will not get sicker from the new variant, but that more people will get sick and that this means that more people will become seriously ill as well.

The situation is serious. The government fears that a further increase in infection will lead to the health service not being able to provide all help.

– The infection must be limited so that not many people need health care at the same time, said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and outlined new measures and recommendations:

– We encourage everyone to reduce the number of close contacts.

– The one meter rule is back, keep your distance.

– Recommends a maximum of 10 people at home, and 20 on Christmas Eve or another party at Christmas (if you can keep a meter distance between the guests)

– Training should take place outdoors.

– Take the vaccine.

Mandatory for facemasks if you can not keep a distance of one meter.

– Mandatory facemasks and restrictions on guests do not apply to children, who can invite more than 10 people from those they are still in a cohort with in kindergarten and school.

Very intrusive coronary restrictions are now being introduced that affect many companies. It is good that the government is acting quickly and introducing a national compensation scheme for November and December. But companies need further measures, says NHO director Ole Erik Almlid.

NHO wants to put in place a scheme for wage support, to avoid mass layoffs before Christmas.

NHO otherwise understands that the development of infection and the situation around the omicron variant necessitate new restrictions.

But Almlid is very worried about what it means for the restaurant and nightlife bars that you now get cancelled Christmas dinners and large falls in turnover.

NRK.no report

 

Image by Tommy Andreassen from Pixabay

 

Germany: Covid lockdown imminent

German Health Minister Jens Spahn on Friday said that the pandemic situation has worsened over the past week and it’s now “more serious than last week,” adding that the country is facing “a national emergency.” 

When asked about the possibility of imposing a new lockdown for everyone, he said: “We’re in a situation where we can’t rule anything out.”

DW.com report

 

Update, 20th November 2021:

“The fourth corona wave has captured the hospitals in the south and east of Germany with full force. “We are on the verge of collapse,” says Stefan Rath, the medical director of the Donau-Isar Clinic in Deggendorf. From the other clinics in the area, from Traunstein, Mühldorf am Inn, Freyung and Sonneberg in Thuringia, it sounds similar: “It’s like being in a nightmare that doesn’t wake you up, it just keeps getting worse.” absolutely on the wall. You can also say that we are in the middle of an impact. “” We are collapsing. “

FAZ.net report (in german)

 

 

Germany has seen unprecedented levels of Covid infections for nearly a month. A lockdown is now the only tool available to bring down infections quickly enough to prevent the German health service from being overwhelmed.

 

 

 

Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay

Belgium: 54% of COVID-19 patients in ICUs are fully vaccinated

At a press briefing, the virologist Steven Van Gucht gave new figures on the percentage of immunised and non-immunised COVID-19 patients on the country’s intensive care wards. The figures that cover the period up to and including 9 November show that 54% of COVID-19 patients that are being treated on intensive care wards in Belgium have been fully vaccinated, and 46% have been partially vaccinated, or not vaccinated. 

Virologist Marc Van Ranst confirmed this in an interview with the VRT evening television news programme. “Vaccinated patients are drawn from 90% of the population while the non-vaccinated patients are drawn from just 10% of the population”, Professor Van Ranst explained.*

VRT.be report

 

* False comparison alert

Once again we see this dishonest comparison by virologists who infer that the fully vaccinated have the same level of risk for being infected or hospitalized with Covid-19 as the unvaccinated. They do so by using the population size comparison.

Either the vaccines afford protection against infection and hospitalization, or they don’t. Which is it? You cannot have it both ways.  And why is NO ONE calling them out on this?

Also note how the partially vaccinated are always lumped together with the unvaccinated in these comparisons. The partially vaccinated, of course, will soon include those who have had only two doses of vaccine, not three, so the pool of the partially vaccinated, combined with the unvaccinated, will always be large enough to continue to make these false comparisons.

 

Update:

In this VRT.be article, they say that 70 percent of Belgian hospitalized patients are fully vaccinated but that the “vaccines are working”.

 

Belgium doctor: Our ICU is full of vaccinated patients

 

 

France: confining the unvaccinated “not necessary in France” says Macron

President Emmanuel Macron believes that the health pass allows the French to be protected from the drastic measures taken in Austria.

“The countries that confine the unvaccinated are those that have not implemented the pass. This measure is therefore not necessary in France ”, considers the President of the Republic, who regrets that undecided people are still reluctant to vaccination. “I think we should all be ambassadors for vaccination. I see it, public speaking has its limits. Help me to convince those who are reluctant, who have locked themselves in a solitary distrust ”, adds the latter.

LeParisien.fr report

 

 

 

Image by Paul Henri Degrande from Pixabay

Germany and Czech Republic impose Covid restrictions on the unvaccinated

The presidents of the states of Germany have agreed on Thursday with the central government to introduce restrictions on public life for people who have not been vaccinated against covid-19.

Sources present at the meeting of the German authorities cited by the DPA news agency have confirmed that the facilities focused on leisure, culture or sports, among others, will only be accessible to people with the full vaccination schedule or who are have recovered from the coronavirus.

El Periodico report

 

Czech Republic: From Monday, entry to pubs, restaurants, sporting and cultural events, and hairdressers, will be restricted to those who have been vaccinated or have recently recovered from Covid-19. Negative tests will no longer be accepted as sufficient protection. The announcement follows a record daily high in confirmed cases on Tuesday, of 22,479, around 50% more than the preceding Tuesday.

BRNOdaily.com report

 

Has anyone told these governments that the Covid vaccines don’t prevent transmission of Sars-Cov-2 yet?

 

Prediction: European Covid winter wave of 2021 will be the worst wave of the pandemic so far

 

Image by Lubos Houska from Pixabay

Austria: full lockdown for vaccinated and unvaccinated planned

Two states in Austria will restrict public life for vaccinated and unvaccinated people starting next week as hospitals strain under the latest surge in coronavirus infections. The general lockdown in the states — Salzburg and Upper Austria — goes into effect a week after the country imposed broad restrictions on the activities of unvaccinated people.

The general lockdown in the two states, which is expected to last at least several weeks, comes amid record caseloads. The Austrian authorities registered 15,609 new cases in a single day nationwide on Tuesday, a record in the country since the pandemic began. About 40 percent of those cases were in Salzburg and Upper Austria.

NYtimes.com report

 

 

Austria is one of several central European countries who are seeing record-breaking Covid growth rates in the past month:

 

Prediction: European Covid winter wave of 2021 will be the worst wave of the pandemic so far

 

 

Image by Wolfgang Zimmel from Pixabay

Europe: all-time Covid infection record broken by growing winter superwave

Europe has broken through its all-time high for Covid cases, and is seeing sharp increases in infections right across the continent. The Covid superwave that started in Eastern Europe just one month ago has now spread to all corners of the continent, and doesn’t look like it’s about to break anytime soon.

Virtually every part of Europe is now seeing increases in infections as the winter superwave rolls in.

 

Virtually every government in Europe has pinned its hopes on Covid vaccines preventing further large waves of the disease, a tactic that we have repeatedly warned wouldn’t work. It has been obvious for months that vaccine waning and vaccine breakthroughs would make vaccines a poor first line of defence.

Europe needs to regroup, rethink, and redraw its lines of defence quickly. Greater defence in depth is needed by using mitigations that are proven to work. 

Our estimation of the winter wave of 2020 shown in the diagram below suggests that a wave peak of around 13 – 15 million biweekly cases might have been reached had it not been for the mitigations imposed in Europe and North America in early November 2020.

The 2020 winter wave was broken in half by strong mitigations. It may already be too late to reintroduce them this to year to prevent the worst of the damage from the wave impact.

 

What was the lesson we all learned from earlier waves? Go in hard, go in strong? 

With the half-hearted mitigations that Europe has put in place for the winter wave, it looks as though we are about to find out just how bad things can really get with Covid.

 

Updatable chart for Europe below – press your refresh button to update:

 

Prediction: European Covid winter wave of 2021 will be the worst wave of the pandemic so far

Denmark: huge queues at Covid test centres as infection rates soar

Denmark has seen large queues at Covid test centres across the country today as its all-time Covid infection record looks likely to be broken within days. Long queues have also formed at its vaccination centres.

“There were huge queues at several test centres in Valby and Gentofte, among other places. In Valby, BT’s man on the scene told that there was up to two hours of waiting time despite the fact that there is an appointment. The same was true at the test centre in Gentofte. Here, however, there is no appointment to show up.” (BT.dk report in Danish)

Denmark has seen its Covid infection rate increase in a similar fashion to Germany, Austria and  the Netherlands over the last month.  The stark, almost vertical chart line shows that the infection case record dating back to December 18th 2020 is about to be broken within days.

 

Ireland: new restrictions to prevent Covid winter wave

Working from home, midnight closing time for hospitality among measures announced by Irish Taoiseach.

Latest changes to Irish Covid-19 restrictions:

Bars, restaurants and nightclubs – midnight closing from Thursday;
Return to working from home;
Digital Covid certs to be presented in theatres and cinemas;
Entire household to self-isolate for five days following a positive case in the house;
Adults over the age of 50 to receive booster shot

Everyone should work from home, hospitality must close at midnight and those who are close contacts of confirmed cases must restrict their movements for five days, the Taoiseach has confirmed.

IrishExaminer.com report

 

Irish Covid infection figures saw a slight drop on the day new restrictions were introduced.png

 

 

 

Image by Thomas Gaschler from Pixabay

Germany could soon register up to 400,000 Covid infections a day without mitigations

Germany could register up to 400,000 infections of Covid 19 a day if measures are not established that lead to a clear reduction of contacts, according to a new study.

The study, in which the epidemiologist André Karch, from the University of Münster, and the computer scientist Bernhard Renard from the University of Potsdam participated, points out that even if the current vaccination rate were doubled, it would not be able to break that dynamic.

A doubling of the vaccination rate would only achieve that infections would reach 300,000 a day and even tripling the rate would reach 200,000 a day, which would be enough to saturate the health system.

To break the fourth wave, in addition to an acceleration of vaccination, it would be necessary to cut contacts in half.  To make it, it is necessary to prevent large agglomerations and the reduction of contacts with people who are potentially infected through a clear strategy of population testing.

DW.com report

 

Germany has seen unprecedented growth in Covid-19 in November 2021

 

Image by Michael Bußmann from Pixabay

USA: Covid blizzard in Minnesota – 72,628 vaccine breakthrough cases, 519 deaths

“We are in the middle of a COVID blizzard right now in Minnesota,” state infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann said. Minnesota has the nation’s highest rate of new coronavirus infections, but the “whole Midwest is lighting up,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. 

The state on Monday reported another 5,266 coronavirus infections and a 9.7% positivity rate of COVID-19 diagnostic testing that brings Minnesota close to its 10% high-risk threshold for widespread viral transmission for the first time since December.

Breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated Minnesotans remain a component of the latest wave, because early recipients last winter are encountering waning immunity and needing booster doses. The state on Monday reported another 7,784 breakthrough infections, the total now being 72,629. COVID-19 deaths in fully vaccinated Minnesotans increased to 519.

Startribune.com report

 

 

Historical Minnesota vaccine breakthrough data:

25th May 2021 – 2,550 cases, 239 hospitalizations, 26 deaths
10th August 2021 – 5,599 cases, 514 hospitalizations, 57 deaths
16th November 2021 – 72,628 cases, 3,177 hospitalizations, 519 deaths

 

 

Preprint: Genome recombination between Delta and Alpha variants of SARS-CoV-2

Prominent genomic recombination has been observed between the Delta and Alpha variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) isolated from clinical specimens in Japan.

During the surveillance, we monitored several variants of concern (VOCs) of the PANGO lineage. We found six unique specimens among the 21A (Delta) clade isolates that exhibited a low quality assignment (“not determined” or “none”) in the PANGO lineage, even though their genome sequences had been completely determined with high read coverage throughout the whole genome region.

A detailed genome alignment by Nextclade suggested that despite being clonal isolates of the 21A (Delta) clade, these six isolates show identical mutation profiles with 20I (Alpha, V1), particularly between the ORF6 and N genes, located towards the latter part of the SARS-CoV-2 genome.

Additionally, the alignment clearly revealed a possible recombination spot between the ORF6 and ORF7a genes. However, the next generation sequencing (NGS)-based read mapping analysis did not indicate the presence of any heterogeneous mix of alleles in the clinical specimens, suggesting that these patients had not acquired multiple variant infections with 21A (Delta) and 20I (Alpha, V1) clades at the acute stage of the infection.

 

MedRxiv preprint: Genome Recombination between Delta and Alpha Variants of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) 

 

 

 

Image by Iván Tamás from Pixabay

Germany: “We do not have a pandemic of the unvaccinated”

Berlin virologist Christian Drosten: “We do not have a pandemic of the unvaccinated, we have a pandemic,” he emphasized. There is a pandemic “to which everyone contributes – including those who have been vaccinated, albeit a little less”.

Again and again politicians speak of a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”. World Medical President Frank Ulrich Montgomery recently even. Behind this is the accusation that vaccination refusals in particular contribute to the bad corona situation – and are also responsible for tightened measures. Drosten says “We do not have a pandemic of the unvaccinated, we have a pandemic,” he emphasized. There is a pandemic “to which everyone contributes – including those who have been vaccinated, albeit a little less”.

Berliner-Zeitung.de report (in German)

 

Scotland: 88% of Covid deaths and 66% of new Covid cases are fully vaccinated

The 2021 winter wave will be the largest Covid wave so far

It looks like the 2021 Covid global winter wave will be a much larger repeat of the 2020 winter wave, with Europe and North America being the biggest contributors of new Covid cases again.

The growth in the current North American wave is about to overtake the declining Asian wave, to contribute, as it did last year, perhaps half of all winter cases.

Shown below is the 2020 winter wave. It was largely comprised of cases from North America and Europe. Note the crossover between the North American and Asian waves on 29th October 2020, which happened at about 90,000 daily cases.

 

Shown below is the 2021 winter wave so far. Note the imminent crossover between the America and Asia waves on the far right of the chart, on or about 14th November 2021, also at about 90,000 daily cases, just over two weeks later than last year.

 

And below is the view of all global waves so far.

Note that the current European wave is about to exceed it’s previous 2020 highs within days. In 2020 the peak in European cases was on November 8th, just as the various national lockdowns and other mitigations began to kick in.

 

Below is our estimation of the size of the first global winter wave in 2020/2021. National lockdowns and other mitigations broke the wave in half, and without them it would have been by far the largest wave so far:

 

We have already predicted that this coming winter wave will be the largest wave so far due to the lack of mitigations in place. In 2021, lockdowns have been largely ruled out, schools are open, facemasks have been abandoned in many areas, and social distancing is no longer even discussed. 

Without urgent mitigations, it’s going to be a very harsh winter indeed.

 

 

 

More in our Decoding Sars-Cov-2 series:

 

 

 

Image by Cristian Vazquez from Pixabay