Covid, infections and deaths are growing again.  Is it the sixth wave?

Let’s call it a new surge or sixth wave, in any case the result is this: Covid infections have reversed course and are returning to the center of attention. The Gimbe Foundation took care of it, with its weekly monitoring, to bring the spotlight back to the number of newly infected people in the Italian regions. And the report for the week from 8 to 14 June is clear: the new Covid cases totaled 160,751. An increase of 32.1% recorded in almost all Italian regions.

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The trend is reversed

Gimbe, like a good number of Italian experts, agrees that it is the sub-variant Omicron BA.5 that is responsible for this new resurgence of infections, given that in 99 provinces there is a percentage increase, with Cagliari accusing an incidence higher than 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
“The trend of new weekly cases reverses the trend (+ 32.1% compared to the previous week) – confirms Nino Cartabellottapresident of the Foundation – which amounted to around 160,000 with a 7-day moving average of nearly 23,000 cases per day “.
Specifically, in the week of June 8-14, compared to the previous one, there was an increase in infections (160,751 against 121,726) and deaths (416 instead of 392, equal to 6.1%). While currently positive cases are decreasing (603,882 versus 628,977), people in home isolation (599,500 versus 624,416), hospitalizations with symptoms (4,199 instead of 4,342) and intensive care (183 instead of 219).

“Fault of the new Omicron sub-variants”

The latest report fromEuropean Center for Disease Prevention Control (ECDC), published on 13 June, confirms that the new Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants have a higher transmissibility than BA.2 and a higher ability to evade immune protection from vaccine and previous infection, increasing the likelihood of reinfection. “The ECDC reiterated that the new sub-variants do not seem to determine a greater severity of the disease than BA.1 and BA.2 – continues Cartabellotta -. Consequently, the possible impact on hospital admissions depends on both the extent of ‘increase in cases, either by vaccination coverage rates with three doses, or with four in vulnerable people “.

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Samples under examination

To date, the official data on the prevalence of the BA.5 variant in Italy date back to the flash survey published byHigher Institute of Health (ISS) on the samples notified on May 3, 2022, while the results of the one conducted on the samples relating to June 7 are not yet available.
“In this context of uncertainty and in continuous evolution – explains Cartabellotta – it is essential to enhance sequencing by increasing the frequency of flash surveys, at least every two weeks, and to have the results more quickly”.

“Let’s not call it the sixth wave”

Who really does not want to hear the definition of “sixth wave of Covid” is the epidemiologist Pierluigi Lopalco. He explains: “We are observing an increase in infections, most likely linked to the sub-variant BA.5. The signs of a greater severity are not there, as well as of a lower response to vaccination”.
And he continues: “Sixth wave? We must abandon this definition and this vision of the problem, because the situation we are experiencing is something other than the one we have witnessed in the past. If anything, it is a resumption of infections linked to the new variants, and we will have to get used to this for the next few years. “

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Seasonal spread of the virus

Lopalco speaks of “a spread of the virus linked to seasonality, that is to change in behavior (for example the resumption of indoor activities), or because the virus itself adapts and produces new variants”. But, he adds, “hospitalizations are decreasing, and this is the indicative data: it means that the symptoms are mild and that it is almost exclusively reinfections, therefore with a less important clinical manifestation than that generated by a first infection”.
As for the forecasts, Lopalco has no doubts: “It is very likely that we will not see a wave of hospitalizations, as happened in the past. And that was a pandemic wave.”

“We will have more cases, but not serious”

Basically, according to the epidemiologist, the trend of the next few weeks, and perhaps also of autumn, could still draw an increase in cases, but not worrying. “And in any case, let’s not forget that today we have tools to prevent serious illness in those who are infected, I am talking about monoclonal drugs – he concludes -. We absolutely must undertake an analysis on infections and hospitalizations. The observations we will make during this summer will also be crucial. to decide the vaccination strategy for next winter. Which, in my opinion, must be understood as a tool to tackle, above all, the most serious infections “.

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