During the Easter holidays there could be fewer infections among children and adolescents, among whom the virus is currently particularly rampant. However, one should not indulge in the illusion that one can lock the schools and open the pub gardens at the same time, said Klimek. “It is not as if the schools drive the whole infection process. They reflect what is happening in the population as a whole. “
Effects set in with a time lag
No further easing is planned in Austria for the time being. However, the government and provincial governors could not agree on new measures or tightening at a summit on Monday in the Federal Chancellery.
But even new measures would not change the dramatic situation in the intensive care units so quickly. Klimek refers to the now well-known “time delay arithmetic”: Even if measures were taken this week, it would take a week or two for these effects to show – only another seven to 14 days later would the effect appear in the intensive care units. “In truth, however, it is already the case that the situation in the intensive care units in eastern Austria in particular will worsen,” said Klimek. Relief is expected in a month at the earliest.
“Seasonality” as an unknown
Klimek cannot predict when the third wave in Austria will peak without additional measures. For example, the “seasonality” factor is difficult to assess. The rising temperatures and stronger sunlight make it difficult for coronaviruses. In addition, people meet outside more often in warm weather, where the risk of infection is lower than inside.
How strong the influence of spring was on the development of the pandemic in the previous year is difficult to assess. In an interview with the APA, the Viennese virologist Norbert Nowotny took the view that the low number of cases last summer was due to the fact that “at that time, relatively little virus was still circulating in the population. That is different now, there is currently a lot of virus circulating. ”
For comparison: When Austria went into the first lockdown on March 16, 2020, the 7-day incidence per 100,000 inhabitants was just over twelve. This value is currently 243 throughout Austria and 312 in Vienna. On May 15, the catering trade was allowed to reopen under strict security precautions. At that time, there were an average of less than 50 new infections per day across the country.
Wagner sees “extremely high risk”
The microbiologist Michael Wagner sees Austria as going “extremely high risk”. Although the comprehensive test strategy is currently ensuring that the numbers do not explode, “testing the way” of the third wave that has arrived obviously does not work with the tests that have now been implemented.
Overall, politicians have ultimately probably lacked the belief that the numbers can actually be pushed against a 7-day incidence of 50 and below. From a purely epidemiological point of view, this is incomprehensible, said Wagner in an interview with the APA, because ultimately Austria threatens to block the chance of a pandemic much simpler spring and summer and in the last few meters before vaccinations are widely rolled out, there are still many serious illnesses and deaths to accept.
“Ultimately, one hopes that with more testing – where one has taken really good steps – one can keep things under control,” said Wagner. However, due to the inadequate data situation in many areas, it is still not possible to say with certainty what is actually being achieved with which strategy and which test procedure, criticized the initiator of the SARS-CoV-2 monitoring study in schools – commonly known as the “Gurgelstudie”.
Unlike in the previous year, a powerful weapon against the coronavirus is now available: vaccination. The vaccination campaign in Austria and many other EU countries is making slow progress, but positive effects can already be seen in the group of the very old, where the number of deaths and cases is falling significantly.
A relief for the intensive care units will be – “as we are currently on the move” – but in May at the earliest, according to Klimek. The average age of Covid 19 patients in hospitals is currently much lower than it was in autumn. In Vienna, for example, it is between 40 and 60 years. It may take some time before people from these age groups receive their vaccination.
The City of Vienna announced on Tuesday that the vaccinations for resident doctors could only start in mid-April due to delivery bottlenecks – more on this in wien.ORF.at.
Development “not surprising”
According to Klimek, the development of the number of cases and hospitals is “not surprising” and has become apparent over the past few weeks. “What was surprising was that, week after week, people were still discussing which easing would be possible first.” According to the scientist, there is no “one thing” that is needed to reverse the trend. “Infections take place wherever people come together. Therefore one will have to make considerations in all areas of life. ”