In the United States, a new record for the number of coronavirus infections has been recorded – more than 1.13 million per day. In 90% of cases, the “omicron” strain is “guilty”. In Europe, hundreds of thousands of new infections are also recorded daily. In Russia, the incidence curve is still on the decline, but … There are already cases of “internal” infection with “omicron”. People did not go abroad, but they picked up the virus. This means that Omicron is already in Russia, and we are – most likely – waiting for the same thing as Europeans and Americans – another surge of COVID-19.
“In many countries today we are seeing an explosive increase in the incidence – the number goes to hundreds of thousands and even millions. Under these conditions, it is imperative to intensify vaccination and revaccination … All regions need to immediately take preventive measures,” said Mikhail Murashko, head of the Ministry of Health.
At the same time, the networks again ask the question: what is the point of vaccinating, if a surge in infection, and even what, is happening today in countries where the majority of the population is vaccinated? The answer was given by the world-famous epidemiologist Mikhail Favorov. “Yes, the effectiveness of vaccines against Omicron is no more than 50%. But for the “specialists”, I explain: they don’t die from Omicron! And from Delta, where mortality is up to 2%, this is every 50th! In other words, vaccines “Omicron” is slowly replacing “delta”, and if not vaccinated, then there will still be about 500,000 deaths in the world,” the scientist explained.
At the same time, Favorov believes that Omicron is a harbinger of the end of the pandemic. “The virus has adapted! People have become sick much more often, the virus has become” its own “, approaches our enzymes, receptors. They have become much less likely to die from this option. The virus does not kill” “their”! circulating “delta”. This is an indicator of the adaptation of the pathogen,” said Mikhail Favorov.
Other experts also predict a new peak in the incidence. After the holidays, people went to work, and children went to school – the number of contacts is increasing. Given the high contagiousness of Omicron, an increase in cases is inevitable, says virologist Anatoly Altshtein. A similar point of view is shared by the well-known biologist Ancha Baranova, chief researcher at the Medical Genetic Research Center of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, professor at George Mason University (USA).
“There is no doubt that omicron will spread throughout Russia,” Baranova said. “People who have omicron have not traveled anywhere. This means that it is already in the country and there will be more of it.”
True, there is also optimistic information – a relatively mild course of COVID-19 in those infected with the “omicron”. But its high contagiousness still poses a threat: among the millions of cases there will always be weakened people who are seriously ill. At the same time, the wider the virus spreads, the higher the burden on the medical network will be.
“Therefore, the best strategy now for the population is to try to isolate. It is clear that this is not always possible – people went to work and study after the holidays, they are forced to travel by public transport. But where possible, contact should be avoided,” advises Dr. Ancha Baranova .
More countries introduce mandatory vaccination against COVID-19
Elsewhere, meanwhile, governments are tightening the screws on the unvaccinated. This is because the vaccine is still considered the most reliable protection against the severe course of COVID-19, no matter what strain it is caused by.
Since mid-January, several European countries have introduced mandatory vaccinations. For example, Austria plans to oblige everyone over the age of 14 to be vaccinated, and in Italy, from February 15, all citizens over 50 years of age will be required to be vaccinated. Moreover, those who try to refuse vaccination will be fined 100 euros. “Doctors have already called the amount of the fine too small,” – said the newspaper La Stampa.
The heads of all regions of Germany also advocated the introduction of mandatory vaccination – for now for adults. Restrictions in this country are now much softer than during the first, second and third waves of the pandemic. Basically, as in other EU countries, they concern the unvaccinated: they are forbidden to visit restaurants, theaters, fitness clubs.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron has drawn criticism by bluntly saying he wants to stir up anti-vaxxers. Actually, the measures he proposes are the same as in the rest of Europe. But Macron, as noted by the BBC, stated rather harshly that he would not “force inoculate” the remaining five million unvaccinated French, but hopes to encourage them to be vaccinated, “as far as possible, by limiting their access to activities in public life.” “I will not send [непривитых людей] to jail,” Macron said. – But I will say that from January 15 you will no longer be able to go to a restaurant. You can’t go out for coffee anymore, you can’t go to the theater or the movies anymore.”
And in Australia, where some of the most stringent restrictions have been in place for all two years of the pandemic, a scandal erupted these days due to the fact that the authorities did not let the world number one Serb Djokovic into the country. The famous tennis player did not hide the fact that he was not vaccinated, but stocked up on a medical exemption from vaccination. Moreover, in December he suffered COVID-19. However, he was detained at the entrance to the country: the border guards said that the tennis player “could not provide proper evidence” to enter Australia. “Non-citizens who do not have a valid entry visa or whose visa has been revoked will be detained and taken out of Australia,” the Australian Border Force (ABF) said in a statement to the Air Force about the conflict with the athlete.
So the right to speak at the tennis tournament Djokovic had to defend in court. The visa was returned to him, although complications continue: the Australians are unhappy that it was decided to violate the strict rules that the citizens of the country themselves have been forced to comply with for two years.
Фото: Getty Images
Tatyana Ruzhentsova, Deputy Director for Clinical Affairs, Moscow Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology named after Gabrichevsky Rospotrebnadzor
– By the end of 2021, we again saw record high numbers of coronavirus infections. The leaders again are the USA, Great Britain, Spain. It is most likely that there are two main reasons for the increase in the number of cases: the rapid spread of the new Omicron strain and the numerous contacts during the Christmas period.
In Russia, we now see much more favorable figures. However, our previous experience in combating COVID-19 and an analysis of the spread of “omicron” in other countries suggests that it is unlikely that we will be able to avoid a new rise in the incidence. But how it will be expressed depends only on us. If we try not to get into crowded rooms, keep a social distance, use protective masks in transport, in shopping centers and in other institutions, then it will be more difficult for the virus to spread. In immunized groups, it is difficult for the virus to spread: the immune system of vaccinated and recovered patients works immediately, preventing the pathogen from multiplying and penetrating into the body. Therefore, even in the case of the development of the disease, the likelihood of transmitting the virus to another person in vaccinated people is much less, and the symptoms of the disease will be easier.
Prepared Olga Ignatova