Explain why the wave appeared during this summer despite the improvement in ventilation and humidity. But the effects of this wave appear to be more favorable in the short and long term.
Read the full article: Why wave in summer?
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It’s summer, isn’t it!?
I get the question – the justification – from different sides: How can so many people get infected, right now in the summer? The virus spread pattern is similar to that of the flu and we get it in the fall and winter after all! In summer, humidity is still high and there is plenty of natural ventilation (with windows and doors open).
In the answer I’m giving now, I won’t go into much detail about the exact way how the infection progresses and evolves with the different mutations of the virus.
It is known that Omicron It is more contagious, but it is also less virulent than the first type. Partly because of this, there are very few patients in intensive care, while the sewage numbers are now higher than they were at the end of November 2021. But then there were 15 times as many patients with coronavirus in the intensive care units.
Just look at this graph as the sewage and occupancy figures evolve in integrated circuits.
It is easy to see how with the advent of Omikron in January 2022, IC occupancy followed a very different pattern than before. If the sewage figures indicate the real development in the number of infected people in the Netherlands, then at the end of March 2022 we will see that the number of virus particles in sewage is 2.2 times what it was at the peak at the end of 2021. But IC occupancy is a very low factor of 5 times. This means that at the end of March, there will be an 11 times less factor of occupancy of the integrated circuits compared to the infected people than in December 2021.
Currently, the number of virus particles is a factor 1.5 times higher than it was at the peak at the end of 2021. But the occupancy of integrated circuits is now a factor of 14 times lower. This will now result in 21 times lower IC occupancy compared to December 2021. (The lower occupancy could be due in part to the shorter extension periods)
How do you get infected?
A person becomes infected when a large number of virus particles reproduce, without the body being able to sufficiently stop this reproduction, so that infection occurs. This infection means that you can get certain complaints and that you also have a chance to spread virus particles, which in turn enter others.
As regular readers know, I’ve been assuming for more than two years that the spread of the virus is almost done through the air. The virus is transmitted from the respiratory organs of one person and is mainly inhaled by the other. The virus can then settle in many places. The current mutation appears to do so much more in the upper respiratory tract, whereas before that it occurs more often deep in the lungs.
Then two critical elements:
- How many virus particles do you ingest in a given period of time?
- What protective equipment does your body have to make sure that the virus particles that have entered do not multiply quickly?
1. Virus particles inside
This number is determined by the number of complete virus particles present in the air you breathe. This again depends on what part of the air you breathe comes from another person spreading virus particles.
You never know if someone is spreading virus particles. The more the virus prevails and the more people in the room, the more virus particles are in the air.
The number of virus particles can be significantly reduced through intensive ventilation, proper humidity and air filtration. However, it will not be completely zero. Even abroad it doesn’t have to be that way. But you know that the number of virus particles will be so low that the risk of infection is very small.
It is also the case, and this has been the essence of human development since childhood, that our immune system is meticulously trained by coming into contact with virus and bacteria particles. Usually limited contact with it is beneficial.
2. Body protection
The human body is designed to handle viruses and bacteria well. Sometimes we get sick, but at the same time, you are less likely to get sick the next time, and even less likely to get very sick the next time.
This training takes place in the early years of your life. (I remember very well catching chickenpox, measles, and mumps in the early years.) When you get a lot older, your body’s protection level drops again.
The strength and position of your immune system can vary from person to person. It depends on many things, which makes you strengthen or weaken your immune system.
In addition, there are also vaccines and medications that reduce the chance of developing an infection and/or leading to serious consequences. Sometimes it is very effective, but sometimes the effects are slight.
So it is the combination of 1 and 2 that determines whether you are infected or not!
What is different now from what it was in March 2020?
In March 2020, the then dominant type of virus had a reproductive factor of 2.5. In addition, there were a few people who had an immune system that could stop this virus, so to speak. People become infected if viral doses are exceeded.
The reproduction factor for measles is between 12 and 20 (it is completely airborne, as it has been recognized since 1985). However, few adults get measles because their immune systems have learned to fight off measles. So, despite this high rate of reproduction, we are not seeing any major outbreaks of measles.
The current Omikron mutation (and certainly the latest BA.5) has the same reproduction factor as measles, so it’s about 15 years old and it’s already much higher than the original Omikron mutation.
It is necessary to understand the reasons for the difference in the reproductive factor. In this article, it is sufficient to assume that this is because fewer virus particles are needed to infect a person. (This process is complex. But in balance, the effect is due to the fact that if your immune system does not have protection against the virus, you will soon cross the limit in this variant in which the virus can rapidly multiply inside your body.)
So the viral dose needed to get infected is much lower. In this article, I will discuss this topic in detail.
This is the reason for a new wave
A combination of two factors now ensures that there is a new wave of infection:
- Viral doses of infection are much lower than in 2020
- The population’s immune protection against the recent Omikron mutation has decreased. It does not matter at the moment the factors responsible for this.
Good ventilation, high humidity and air filtering ensure that the number of viruses in the air is reduced. But due to the low threshold of the viral dose, this is increasingly difficult to achieve, even in the summer.
However, the question is whether you should also do your best now? There are also several arguments against this:
- There are so many places you can come into contact with the virus that protection in one place will not significantly reduce the overall risk.
- If you are exposed to the virus now, you are building better protection in the winter.
- The current variable usually makes you sick with difficulty.
- It is better to catch respiratory diseases in the summer than in the winter.
Fortunately, there is currently no hysteria about this wave in the Netherlands. There are some places in the world where people fall back on procedures.
More and more people are realizing that this virus is no more or more dangerous than they thought. It also feels strong and secure.
It remains to be seen what will happen in the fall. Is there a more virulent type? Could we feel fear again about the new alternative? Whether patients are sweeping hospitals again, whether or not it’s this virus (think the flu).
Especially in autumn and winter we spend more and more time indoors. Hence it is definitely advisable to make sure that you inhale as little of the air that others exhale. Whatever the infectious disease, it reduces the risk of contracting it.
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