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We hardly talk about the Covid pandemic anymore, but now the head of vaccine strategy for the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Marco Cavaleri, is sounding the alarm. “In the coming weeks – he says – a new wave” of cases is expected.

Coronavirus infections will be “linked to new subvariants of Omicron,” Cavaleri said. “Last week – highlighted the head of Ema – the Omicron BQ1 variant was identified in at least 5 countries” in Europe. And “the ECDC (the European organization for the prevention and control of epidemics, editor’s note) predicts that the BQ1 variant and its sub-variant BQ1.1 will become the dominant strains from mid-November to the beginning of December”.

Photo Ansa / Giuseppe Lami

“It is not yet known whether it will be more transmissible or cause more severe disease than the BA4 and BA5 variants,” said Marco Cavaleri. “However, what is known is that the new variant has a greater ability to evade immunity conferred by vaccination. As well as having contracted Covid or available monoclonal antibodies,” a- he explained.

Covid and children

As for vaccines for children, “Ema – concluded Cavaleri – recommends vaccinating mainly children with basic diseases to protect them from hospitalization and death”. However, “the decision on the vaccination of children rests with the Member States of the EU”. Finally, the European Medicines Agency (Ema) has announced that the examinations of two vaccines adapted against Covid are still in progress. “The possible conclusion for the Sanofi vaccine is expected in November and for the Hipra vaccine in the coming weeks.”

Photo Ansa / Tino Romano

According to the latest weekly survey, from October 25, the general number of Covid patients hospitalized in the “sentinel” hospitals of the Fiaso (Federation of Health Companies) is decreasing. However, the -5% drop only concerns hospitalized patients “with Covid”: that is to say patients who arrived at the hospital for other pathologies but were positive for the pre-admission swab. On the other hand, hospitalizations “for Covid” are increasing.

The pandemic in Italy today

As of October 25, according to ministry data, there were 48,714 new Covid cases in 24 hours, compared to 58,360 on the previous Tuesday, October 18. The positivity rate is currently 16.4%. The dead numbered 120 on 25 October. For a total, since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, of 178,753 citizens who have lost their lives due to, or as a contributing cause, to Covid.

Returning to Fiaso data, the unvaccinated represent 33.3% of people hospitalized in intensive care and 20% in ordinary service. The rest of the hospitalized patients – that is to say the majority – have been vaccinated for more than 6 months. About 90% of those who have contracted the infection and are hospitalized have other illnesses. The average age of unvaccinated in intensive care is 77 years. Among minors under the age of 18 admitted to the four pediatric hospitals of the hospitals belonging to the Fiaso sentinel network, there is a decrease of 8 cases, of a similar magnitude to the increase of last week. The general trend of the Covid in Italy appears to Fiaso as “tending downwards”, but “it must be observed over time to shed light on its dynamics”. The drop in patients “‘with Covid’ would seem to accompany a drop in infections, the effect of which seems to trickle down more slowly to the ‘for Covid'”.

Photo Ansa / Fabio Frustaci

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