Corona pandemic in autumn 2022: This is what the experts expect
The health system could suffer particularly badly from a new mutation that is more dangerous than the Delta variant. Roughly speaking, the scientists created three scenarios in order to be able to depict as many eventualities as possible.
- scenario one: Omicron remains the predominant variant, or a very similar mutation will emerge that also responds to antibodies against omicron. The experts describe this variant as a “rather favourable” case.
- scenario two: A new mutation forms, against which omicron antibodies do not work, but which roughly corresponds to the disease severity of omicron. The researchers refer to this as the “middle” case.
- scenario three: A new variant forms, which roughly corresponds to the disease severity of the delta variant. This is referred to in the prognosis as a “rather unfavorable” case.
Regarding the three scenarios, the researchers explained: “We assume that new virus variants of scenarios two and three will change with regard to the immune escape (when the virus is not recognized by the immune system, editor's note) differs from omicron." The experts therefore assume that "the immune escape of the new variant compared to omicron is of the same order of magnitude as omicron in comparison to Delta.” That would mean that the previous vaccination protection or protection from infection against a possible new variant significantly less effective is, according to the researchers. In addition, in scenario two compared to the first scenario, the incidence would be around three times higher than in the current omicron wave. In the third scenario, the disease severity would also increase significantly, with a similarly high incidence as in the second scenario. This would be the Hospitalization rate many times over higher, by a factor of thirteen according to the researchers' calculations. In this scenario, the healthcare system would be pushed to its limit and probably even overwhelmed.
Protection against overloading the health system in a scenario with only 100 percent vaccination rate
A possible "Scenario 4", in which only the severity of the disease changes, the scientists at the TU consider "less possible“. "Such a virus variant would have difficulties in establishing itself," it says.
Alone by one Vaccination campaign According to the researchers, the calculated scenarios two and three could not be solved. They are of the opinion that the current vaccine is hardly effective against the transmission of new mutations. With multiple booster vaccinations however, the protective effect against a severe course of the disease can be significantly increased. "Our simulations show that such waves can be significantly contained through broad vaccination campaigns and the burden on the health system can be significantly reduced," says Berlin researcher Kai Nagel. "However, if a new mutation occurs that is as dangerous as the delta variant, our simulations show that even with such a vaccination campaign, the healthcare system will be subject to a much greater burden than is currently the case."
Should scenario three occur, for which, according to the experts, “a certain probabilityAccording to the researchers’ simulations, “vaccinations as an individual measure can only avoid overloading the healthcare system if a utopian high vaccination rate of 100 percent accepted from the age of five". If an overload of the healthcare system has to be averted, in this scenario it is necessary "to take very clear countermeasures very quickly, beyond the vaccination campaign," explains Nagel. Then there would be another one comprehensive test strategy, mask requirements and contact restrictions play a key role in fighting the pandemic.