For several days, experts agreed that we had entered the fourth wave of Covid-19 in Belgium. The main indicators of the epidemic are on the rise in all age groups and in all regions of the country. But what about the pressure on hospitals compared to the “traditional” flu pandemic season, which usually peaks in February?
A new report from GEMS, the group of experts tasked with advising the federal government on the health crisis, lifts the veil on the issue. This is the report from our colleagues latest news They were able to learn, its origin stems from the expert interest in facing a double epidemic during the winter.
In order to be able to make a proper assessment of what may lie ahead, they have collected the numbers of stress that the influenza pandemic places on our hospitals each year. Experts focus only on the two most dangerous flu seasons of the past decade. It was the mildest flu season in 2014 and the most severe in 2018. These numbers were collected for infection rates and hospital admissions and intensive care units for both seasons. From there, they then made estimates of daily acceptance at the peak of each wave.
It appears that in terms of infection, the fourth wave of the Coronavirus is currently at a level above the average of the so-called “classic” influenza season. In 2018, during the period of the most severe flu wave, our country had nearly 11,000 infections a day. In the mildest seasons, that number rose to 2,800 per day. An average of 7,750 cases of coronavirus are currently being recorded daily.
In terms of hospitalizations, the fourth wave of coronavirus is currently causing more admissions than the average for flu seasons. In 2014, hospitals received 52 new patients per day at the peak of the epidemic while in 2018, there were 225 patients at the peak. For coronavirus, the number is currently 164 admissions per day. This is three times more than the mildest flu season, but still less than the peak of the most severe flu season.
Finally, at the intensive care level, when the flu hit hard in 2018, 582 patients were admitted to intensive care. At the height of the wave, 11 new intensive care beds were filled daily. In 2014, when influenza was in a very mild season, 9 new patients entered intensive care each day during the peak period. For the fourth wave of coronavirus, we have already exceeded these two values since last week, 12 new patients were admitted per day in intensive care. This means we are already past the peak of the most severe flu season.
With an average of 7,750 daily infections and more than 150 hospital admissions per day, the fourth wave of the coronavirus currently falls between the mild and the most severe flu season. However, in intensive care units, the pressure is already slightly higher in the most severe flu season in the past decade, and the rate of accumulation of this pressure is much higher than the rate of influenza.
These numbers also highlight the role of vaccines as a “bulwark” given that during the second wave of coronavirus, around the same time last year, hospital admissions were much higher than during the height of the most severe flu season ten years ago.
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