The World Health Organization (WHO) reported last week that the end of the corona pandemic is in sight. But what does that mean for the approaching autumn and winter? In any case, we must take into account that the coronavirus will cause a lot of nuisance in the coming months, says virologist Marion Koopmans to NU.nl.
We cannot leave the coronavirus behind us yet this winter, Koopmans thinks.
“We must seriously take into account that the virus will cause nuisance. The number of hospital admissions will probably be smaller than in previous waves, but will not be zero. And certainly in winter, hospitals can’t add much,” says the professor of virology at Erasmus MC.
Koopmans is referring to the flu wave that leads to many hospitalizations every year. For corona, this also led to shortages in hospitals, and even then operations sometimes had to be canceled because there was no room left.
Increase in hospital admissions expected
There are now more than four hundred corona patients in a hospital ward. At the peak of last summer’s corona wave, there were just over a thousand. There were several dozen people with corona in the intensive care units all summer.
Koopmans expects an increase in the number of hospital admissions, despite the unpredictability of the virus. “How large that number will be also depends on, for example, new variants.”
“Our care is not set up in such a way that we have a large reserve.”
Marion Koopmans, virologist
“Even if the increase is not dramatic, it will probably be considerably more than now,” she explains. “Suppose a corona wave and influenza wave (flu, ed.) come together, then things can go fast again. Our care is not set up in such a way that we have a considerable reserve. If patients are added, nothing else can’t be done.”
That is why she emphasizes the importance of the “basic measures”: staying at home in case of complaints, using self-tests, being careful with vulnerable people and good ventilation.
“I think that has gone too far. I also miss the public information in that,” she says. “Of course everyone can enjoy, I like that too. But the virus is not gone. Keep in mind that we always have problems with infections in the autumn.”
The Erasmus MC virologist takes into account that there will be a partial work-from-home advice again next winter. Just like the advice to keep distance from each other and avoid crowds. It could also be that stronger intervention is needed, but she does not dare to predict what will be required.
Corona and influenza can lead to crowds in hospitals.
‘Vaccination is important to prevent measures’
If you want to postpone corona measures as long as possible, according to medical microbiologist Marc Bonten, it is very important that as many people as possible are vaccinated.
“Hopefully it will be the first winter without measures. That is thanks to the vaccines and partly to all the infections,” says the medical microbiologist of UMC Utrecht. “Anyone who certainly does not want measures should be vaccinated.”
This week, research by I&O Research showed that the willingness to get a repeat jab is much lower than the willingness to get the first corona jabs at the time. Two-thirds of people who have received a booster also say they will take the next repeat shot.
Bonten does not dare to say whether this will build up enough immunity. “It may be enough. But if it turns out to be insufficient, it’s already too late.” He therefore believes that the government should explain the importance of the repeat injection “really better”.
Marjolein Knoester, medical microbiologist at the UMCG, expects the corona measures to be over after next winter. “The corona wave should decrease slightly every year, because our immune system gets used to the variants, especially if a large group of people are also vaccinated.”
“I expect this to be the last winter in which we are all busy with this virus. Then we will have a virus that causes flu-like symptoms in the winter. But we should not celebrate too early. We still have to get through this winter,” emphasizes they.