In Switzerland, the peak of the fifth wave could be reached soon

Many have ventured to screenings so far. Many, too, have been masterfully mistaken. But this time, it seems that a consensus tends to emerge on the moment when the Omicron wave – whose magnitude is out of proportion to what we have been able to observe so far – could reach its climax.

In Switzerland, the peak of the Omicron tidal wave could occur within “one to three weeks”, according to Tanja Stadler, president of the Confederation’s scientific task force, who spoke on Tuesday January 11 at a press briefing from the Federal Office of Public Health (OFSP). For the latter, “the number of infections should increase until a third, or even half, of the Swiss population is infected”, resulting in “an immunization of 65 to 85% of the population”, by the through vaccination or infection.

In line with WHO projections

“These projections are corroborated by those presented by the Regional Office of the World Health Organization for Europe, analyzes Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of Geneva. According to them, the peak of the Omicron wave could arrive around the third week of January with more or less advance depending on the country. “

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The European branch of the WHO announced, on the same January 11, that more than 50% of Europeans could be infected by Omicron in the next six to eight weeks, referring to models carried out by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a Seattle-based institute for public health statistics.

In a report published on January 8, the IHME estimates that infections in the European region will peak at more than 12 million per day by mid-January. “We expect reported cases to exceed 2.75 million by the third week of January, and then experience a sharp decline,” the authors write.

“The wave will ebb from the moment when a very large part of the population will have been contaminated by the virus and the latter will no longer find enough hosts to infect to spread, illustrates Antoine Flahault. The forecasts issued by the WHO may turn out to be false, but they are shared by virtually all modelers on the subject. “

Possible increase in hospitalizations

If, according to Tanja Stadler, “an improvement of the situation can be hoped for at the beginning of the spring”, it will be necessary by then possibly to expect an increase in hospitalizations. Indeed, although the data on Omicron seem to confirm its lesser severity, compared to the previous variants, its very high transmissibility and therefore the very large number of infected people could result in a significant increase in new treatments in the hospital. and in intensive care units.

“With infections doubling every eight to ten days, between 80 and 300 new Covid-19 patients could end up in intensive care per week at the height of the Omicron wave,” said Tanja Stadler.

For the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), “hospitalizations will increase to a peak that could be a third higher than last winter”. Figures which, however, also include admissions “with a Covid-19” in addition to those “because of Covid-19”, what the IHME calls “accidental admissions”. “As the prevalence of infections with Omicron is very high, many people hospitalized for other pathologies will have asymptomatic infections”, note the authors, who also report that “these accidental admissions can exceed 50% of the total admissions linked to Covid -19 in some countries. “

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On this last point, Virginie Masserey, head of the infection control and vaccination program section at the FOPH, specified that in Switzerland 30% of cases of hospitalization could be counted in these accidental admissions, stressing that these patients “also represented an additional burden for the care services, the latter having to be treated in conditions of isolation and some seeing their pre-existing diseases being negatively affected by the Covid-19”.

According to the IHME, however, deaths are not expected to increase regionally, due to the gradual replacement of the Delta variant by the Omicron variant.

The million dollar question remains: when will this pandemic reach the so-called “endemic” phase, knowing that 15 to 35% of the Swiss population may not yet be immune to the Omicron wave? “This is a gray area, evades Tanja Stadler. If we can resume a normal life without the hospitals being overwhelmed, we can say that this stage has been reached. ” However, SARS-CoV-2 must not pull a new, more virulent variant out of its hat.

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