European epidemiologists warn which countries should start preparing for a second wave of covid-19.
The covid-19 outbreak is far from over. The World Health Organization (WHO) points out that it is not long before the 10 million infected people are reached worldwide and there are even countries where the rate of new cases has increased again in recent weeks as restrictions are being lifted. One of the most worrying cases is Germany, but the country.
The second wave of SARS-CoV-2 has been mentioned even before most European countries have reached the peak of the outbreak internally, but no one has ever been able to predict when it would arrive, with the most consensus opinion that it should arrive after summer. But now there are those who say that this second wave may come during the summer months.
The scientific community defines the “wave” – albeit informally – in comparison with the waves of the sea. If the natural waves are counted from the moment the descent of water is replaced by a sudden flood. In the case of viruses, the end of the first “wave” is counted when a peak is reached and then it moves to a situation in which the pandemic is minimally controlled. When there is a systematic increase in cases again, the second wave is mentioned.
Even with a few hundred cases appearing every day in Portugal, a second wave could be talked about, according to researchers from the National Institute of Health Ricardo Jorge. “Since the first Covid-19 case notified in Portugal, the country remains in an epidemic situation”, however, in the region of Lisbon and Vale do Tejo (LVT) “the trend and the magnitude of the values of the epidemic curve do not allow us exclude – or conclude unequivocally – from a second phase of growth “, the researchers told Lusa.
The researchers say that the containment measures adopted led to a reduction in the rate of transmission of the infection in the community, but did not eliminate the circulation of the virus, allowing “flattening of the epidemic curve”, which is consistent with the continuous occurrence of new cases of disease over time. Hence it is not yet possible to speak of a new wave in Lisbon, but rather the continuation of the first wave of cases. The truth is that Portugal has had more than 700 cases per day (it had up to one day with almost 1,500 new infections) and currently it has been normally above 350, but below 400, with some variations.
However, there are countries that have had the outbreak under control and are now grappling with a large increase in cases. Iran, for example, which lifted restrictions in April, returned to around 3,000 cases a day in the past month after reaching less than 1,000 a day.
Germany is also preparing for a possible second wave after an outbreak in a slaughterhouse in the town of Gütersloh, which has been in confinement since Tuesday. The company had more than 1,500 positive cases of covid-19. However, the German government says it is acting quickly to control the outbreak and this Friday the number of new cases has decreased again, as well as the rate of contagion which stands at 0.59, after having been above 1 , 01 this week. Portugal and Switzerland also have an index above 1.0. But in Germany, new cases increased by 36.7%, while in Switzerland, they were 15.1% compared to the previous week.
The difference is that Portugal has already announced new restrictive measures (mainly in the Greater Lisbon region, where a new outbreak has been reported) and these two other European countries are resisting this decision, trying to control the outbreak without resorting to general confinement.
Maurizio Cecconi, a doctor at the Humanitas University Hospital in Milan, Italy, told the Euronews: “We are ready for second wave patients. What happened at the beginning of the epidemic is that we were taken by surprise”.
In an open letter published in the British Medical Journal, British experts alerted the government of that country to the evidence that indicates that local outbreaks are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk “.
Jozef Kesecioglu, president of the European Society for Intensive Care Medicine, believes that the second wave is not as serious as the first and says that there is a plan, both at the level of national governments, local governments and hospitals for extra beds .
INSA researchers say that the likelihood of new epidemic waves may be influenced by external factors that favor the spread of the virus, or by the occurrence of genetic changes in the virus that increase its transmission capacity in the human population. “For example, other respiratory viruses, such as the flu virus, circulate with epidemic expression in the autumn and winter months, but it is not yet known whether this will be the case for SARS-CoV-2”, they add.
The researchers conclude that “the criteria for defining a second Covid-19 epidemic wave are not yet consensual in the world, which increases the complexity of interpreting epidemiological data and indicators, compounded by the effects of human intervention on the natural history of the disease. “.