the CRITICAL window

… is decisive for the pandemic’s development.

Started in February 2020, the SAJO blog is providing a thread through the pandemic with up-to-date information and suggestions around SARS-CoV-2.

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Dear readers,

Over the past days we received some very positive feedback to our posts. We want to thank you, it makes us happy if our articles are fun for you to read. We keep trying to make it entertaining, and somewhat personal. Stay tuned and informed.

First, some good news. We are delighted to see the German vaccination campaign getting momentum. Every day, hundreds of thousands are receiving a shot. At this speed, 90 % of the population may be vaccinated once by August and will be protected from severe illness by October or November, after their second dose. Then herd immunity will kick in. This, however, will work only if the willingness to get a vaccine does not wane.

The latter unfortunately is being the case in the U.S., numbers of vaccinations are starting to decline. Most likely there, the 80 % vaccination rate aimed for by epidemiologists and virologists, will not be reached. If this is sufficient protection, and if it is safe to lift all the measures, will be seen in a couple of weeks.

The current numbers are given in the following figure. Even if some countries have successfully flattened the curve, there still are too many countries struggling. The pandemic still is in full swing. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

Source: Johns Hopkins University, May, 17th, 2021

In Germany, the vaccination rate of 11 % is too little to have an impact on the number of new infections. Unfortunately, over the last weeks we observed an increasing opaqueness regarding the German Robert-Koch-Institute’s reporting of daily numbers. There are discrepancies with the values published by the Johns Hopkins University, which is retrieving its data from regional authorities. On single days, these had reported ‘zero’ cases. A later reporting is not being included in the RKI’s seven-day average; it is not being corrected. Thus, the value is incorrect. The reported value is lower than the actual one. Is this the way to keep the value below the politically arbitrary chosen point of 100 before Pentecost? Despite all manipulation, yesterday Germany for a short while reached 9th place in the ranking of those countries most affected by the pandemic. Germany and Spain are in close competition for 9th place.

Now we have reached a critical point, at which we may make it. This is a real chance, that was missed last year. Should the vaccination campaign speed up, and the people stick to the measures, with the herd immunity gradually kicking in, and warmer temperature, the incidence rate may be reduced significantly.

A vaccination rate of 80 % is a prerequisite, however. It makes no sense to discuss a lifting of the measures before.

To us it is incomprehensible to speak about a relaxing of the current measures. To illustrate this, we are showing a chart by the Johns Hopkins University. It shows daily cases (bars) and the 7-day average (curve). In April 2020, the then-imposed measures showed an effect, numbers of infections declined. The collective laissez-faire led to a nationwide spread of the virus through summer, and a steep increase of cases in the fall. Now, we are having twice the numbers than in April 2020, and discussions are raging around lifting of measures. In February 2021, measures were lifted too early, numbers jumped immediately. Today’s situation is worse than in the previous year. A comparison is not being made, instead an arbitrary number of 100 is chosen as a turning point. We remember a number 35 from spring 2020. Both are politically motivated arbitrary numbers (chosen far too high). They CANNOT be justified scientifically.

A stealthy spread of the virus at a low vaccination rate is fatal. This is how the virus is given a breeding ground to further change. In Germany, too little sequencing is taking place (just 2 % of samples), new mutants are being detected too late. This is dangerous. One result may be the spread of new mutants below the radar, such as the one we are speaking about below.

Now is the time to reach low incidence rates into the summer, nationwide, and measurable. This would be a goal, to drive the virus out of the population. Then, with a consequent vaccination campaign herd immunity will be reached by fall, and the expected surge in new infections will be weaker. Until then we will have to hang in there. Measures need to stay in place and vacation (especially abroad) needs to be shifted to the year 2022.

In the beginning of 2021, another new variant (B.1.620), this time an African one, reached Europe undetected. It was identified only recently, carrying several worrisome mutations. This again is showing the urgency of a global vaccination campaign: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.05.04.21256637v1

Virologists and epidemiologists know that in times of a respiratory pandemic travel – for whatever reason – is impossible. The risk of a further spread of dangerous mutants is too high.

Measures and rules need to stay in place, i.e. no lifting of the measures, keep a distance, wear N95 masks in closed spaces. Rooms need a regular and complete air exchange. Avoid cramped offices. Wear N95 masks outdoors if a 6 ft. distance cannot be kept. These rules apply for vaccinated people as well since it is imperative to slow down the virus as much as possible. Hence, all of us need to stick together.

In addition, it needs fairness, regard, solidarity, and a pinch of leniency and patience, to have a somewhat constrained but nevertheless happy year 2021. If we pull ourselves together, we now have the chance to get the pandemic to its knees in Germany. Should we miss this opportunity, the yo-yo will go on grinding down society and economy. We should use this window of opportunity, for we do not know if there will be another one. Epidemics such as the plague for example raged for decades in Europe. Influenza kept coming back, it now is a seasonal scourge.

A personal statement to the current antisemitic incidents in Germany. It is a disgrace – a big disgrace. It is a NO-GO! As with all the insults to individuals, smear campaigns, slander and bullying in institutions, social media, schools, companies, and families. Such incidents are happening all the time, they are the result of base motives, trying to find a scape goat, with personal hatred, anger, disappointments, envy, malevolence, and jealousy. All these are signs of an ugly character. Stand up to these people! Defend yourselves! Stand up and draw the consequences. These horrible persons are doing harm, there is NO WAY to tolerate them, since they will not stop their infamousness!

It is bad enough that in Germany there are still too many fascists, 72 years after the foundation of a democracy.

One word to those of our guests, that were taken in by Germany, and who now are carrying their antisemitism into the streets. The both of us had lived and worked abroad for many years. We had observed the law and the custom of our host countries. Hospitality is a great value. To spurn it, is disgraceful.

Irrespective of an antisemitism that is rooted in a fascist background or in pseudo-religious overzeal, the government authorities must act with all necessary means.

Cold Spring Harbor Retrovirus Meeting

Take care and look after yourselves and others. We wish you a pleasant Pentecost time. It is Jörg’s birthday over that weekend. It always coincided with the Cold Spring Harbor Retrovirus Meeting. In the past we had celebrated there. It was something special. Today, we had to adjust to the current situation, still having a good time. Recently, he found a birthday twin (same day, same year), which also is something special.

Keep up the spirits!

Yours, Jörg and Sabine

SAJO is consulting all around infectious diseases. We are applying our know-how, that we have acquired in more than 20 years. We do what we can to fight this pandemic.

SAJO – for a healthy world and better future!

This is post No. 176. To our delight our blog is receiving a lot of acceptance, we love to share our know-how and experience. Single posts and contents are being adopted by others, also in media. We have learned how to correctly make a citation; this we would wish from others in return as well. Please feel free to share the link – it is an informative tool to fight this pandemic.

(Note: We are no members of political parties, religious congregations, or societies. We value independence, sovereignty, and freedom. With our blog we are providing purely scientific advice, without conflict of interest, altruistic. We are not being paid for it.)

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