NOf course, the current omicron wave is primarily a pandemic of the younger generation. According to the youngest Weekly report of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the incidence in the fifth calendar week, which ran from January 31 to February 6, was well above average, primarily in children and adolescents. The authority found by far the highest incidence with a value of 3736 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in one week in children aged ten to 14. Closely followed by the five to nine year old group, in which the incidence was 3598. For comparison: The RKI gave the corona incidence as 1506 across all age groups. The mean age of a newly infected person fell from 37 years in early November to 31 years as the more contagious omicron variant spread.
However, the pandemic has recently shown the greatest dynamics at the other end of the table – i.e. among the elderly. Within a week, the incidence across all age groups rose by around 14 percent, but while it actually fell in the youngest and rose again slightly in children and adolescents at a high level, the values in the elderly rose sharply. The infection dynamics were greatest in the group of 85 to 89 year olds, where the incidence was almost 43 percent higher than in the week before. An increase of almost 39 percent each shows the data in the neighboring groups, i.e. the over 90 year olds and senior citizens aged 80 to 84 years. The virus is thus spreading more among those who have the greatest risk of serious illness in the event of infection.
The virus is nesting more strongly in retirement homes again
Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) recently justified the current corona measures primarily with the fact that this would prevent many deaths – against the background of falling Covid 19 patients in the intensive care units, there is currently no question of the healthcare system being overloaded, although the numbers have been rising again for a few days. On Thursday, the hospitals reported 2,354 cases in the intensive care units to the RKI nationwide – slightly more than the most recent low at the end of January with 2,191 cases, but significantly less than the previous peak a good year ago with 5,745 patients.
Lauterbach had said on ZDF that if Germany were to relax following the example of Israel, 400 to 500 deaths per day would be expected in this country – significantly more than the range of 100 to 150 deaths that is currently being reported. The most recent data, in which it is not the date of registration but the date of death of those affected, is available to the RKI for the third calendar week of this year. 739 deaths were registered within a week, the number was down for the seventh week in a row.
The fact that Omikron is now increasingly affecting older people probably has something to do with the fact that the virus is once again becoming more established in hospitals and – above all – retirement homes. The RKI found active infection in the fifth calendar week in 174 medical treatment facilities and 373 nursing homes, both numbers rose significantly within a week. Most recently, 1239 new cases in treatment facilities and 4114 cases in old people’s and nursing homes were reported in one week. As far as nursing homes are concerned, the number of facilities affected by active infections in the week between the end of January and the beginning of February corresponds to more than four percent of all homes in Germany that have been affected since the pandemic began. However, since the number of people affected during this time was only a little more than two percent, the figures show that there cannot have been numerous mass outbreaks recently – if Corona occurred in a facility, then it hit usually only a few residents.
The fact that omicron is now spreading primarily among older people need not be a cause for excessive concern – but it doesn’t make the situation any better either. In the end, it was mainly those infected between the ages of 80 and 89 who died, although in times of omicron, which is often milder than infection with the delta variant, it is difficult to say whether someone will die with or from the virus. In any case, in its most recent weekly report from Thursday evening, the RKI points out that the median age of deaths in connection with Corona since the beginning of the pandemic has been 83 years. The increased risk for older people is undisputed: while the proportion of those infected who are over 70 years old has been only eight percent since the beginning of the pandemic, this age group accounts for 84 percent of the deceased. The same applies here: How many of the more than 100,000 people affected died of or with the virus cannot be said with certainty.
In any case, the experts at the RKI have not yet lapsed into a rhetoric of relaxation or easing. “There is still a very high infection pressure in the population. The peak of the fifth wave has not yet been reached,” the report said. However, a few numbers give reason for cautious optimism that things will not stay like they are now forever: “In Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Bremen and Berlin, the federal states where the fifth wave started earliest, the number of cases is falling”. , states the RKI. And one more thing: Despite the further increase in the number of cases overall, the number of new hospital admissions is “rather moderate” and lower than in the first four waves – because the vaccination works very well and Omikron makes less serious illnesses. So the good news is still there. In spite of everything.
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