The incidence is growing and Rt remains above 1. This is the picture of the Covid-19 epidemic in Italy traced by Silvio Brusaferro, president of the Higher Institute of Health. “We monitor the situation of the” coronavirus “pandemic every day. We are seeing that the number of newly infected people grows progressively, and that the incidence that we report on a weekly basis also in these days is showing growth – he says in an interview during the Healthcare Summit of ‘Il Sole 24 Ore’ – The other data to underline is the transmissibility index “Rt” which remains above 1 “, a “very important” element to highlight “because the possibility of starting to decrease both the infected and hospitalizations goes through an Rt that is less than 1”.
“It is clear – he underlines – that with this type of RT also hospitalizations increase regularly, both in the medical area and in intensive care, even if at the moment they are still under the critical thresholds”.
VARIANTS – As for the Omicron variant, “the data” available “are still very few, both “with respect to the real impact on the clinical manifestations” of the infection, and with regard to “the ability to be more or less diffusive than others, or even possibly to be able to evade the immune response”. So “we must have maximum attention, maximum precaution, but also be aware that there are no alarms but situations that must be studied and addressed “with specific measures if the information gathered makes it necessary. Brusaferro however remembers that”the circulation of the Delta variant in our country and in Europe is substantially dominant, somehow exclusive, even from recent reports “.
“The presence of variants – he then explains – is part of the ‘identity card’ of this virus, which changes continuously and sometimes develops mutations affecting important parts” such as the Spike protein. Omicron presents “about thirty that were quickly intercepted by South African colleagues and immediately made available”. What, according to Brusaferro, should be understood is the speed of the process that took place, because “this timeliness, if on the one hand allowed a rapid reaction at a global level, on the other hand entails the fact that the data on the characteristics of this mutant are still very few”.
“We need more data and more time to understand”, repeats the number one of the ISS. “We know – he adds – that” Omicron “has given rise to highly transmissible outbreaks in South Africa, but we also know that the reality of South Africa is different from others” like ours. “We also know that, from what has been reported, the symptomatology” of Omicron positive cases “does not seem to differ” from that caused by other strains, “but even this is an observation contextualized to the area in which it is circulating the most”. The “important thing is that the international system has been alerted, so as to be able to sequence and characterize” the new ‘version’ of the pandemic coronavirus.
VACCINES AND MASKS – The president of the Higher Institute of Health underlines that getting vaccinated and “maintaining high immune coverage”, adhering to the booster dose of vaccine, “is the answer we can give” to the fourth wave of Covid-19 with the unknown of the new variant Omicron. But “alongside this, especially since we are in a very significant phase of circulation of the virus”, anti-contagion measures such as a mask or respect for distances should not be abandoned, is Brusaferro’s warning.
“We know the Delta variant” of Sars-CoV-2, “in Italy and in Europe almost exclusive”, he remembers, “it is transmitted more effectively than other variants”. The first thing not to do, therefore, is to allow it to catch us “in the absence of immune coverage or with reduced immune coverage, because we know that after 5 months from the completion of the first vaccination cycle, especially the ability to prevent Infection. To counter the danger we have today “, therefore,” it is very important on the one hand to vaccinate ourselves “, reiterates Brusaferro, hoping” that those who have not started their vaccination cycle do so to protect themselves and society “, and on the other hand, “that all categories for which booster is recommended from the fifth month after the initial cycle is complete. From today – remember – all over 18s are invited” to undergo the booster vaccination.
Not just vaccines, though. Even individual prudence. “We know that the mask is a very effective measure in reducing transmission” of the pandemic coronavirus. “Even a recent systematic revision – points out the ISS number one – indicates that the mask is able to substantially halve the transmission”. “Hand washing and distancing” are also fundamental, with the recommendation above all to “avoid overcrowding situations. The other important element, especially in this season, is the ventilation of closed environments”. Here, “I believe that by putting together this type of measures, which have already been adopted and present in all government documents, we can look at this epidemic phase with attention and precaution, but also with greater tranquility”.