Hungarian experts believe that the fifth wave of the epidemic will reach Budapest as early as next week, causing the Omicron variant to surge in the capital first. According to predictions, this variant will already reach half the height of the previous delta wave by the end of the week, around Friday, and will surpass the peak of the delta wave in Budapest sometime next week.
This article was originally published on our sister-site, Ungarn Heute.
Gábor Vattay, an expert in epidemiological modeling at ELTE University, told RTL News that the fifth wave could start a few weeks later in rural areas, as evidenced by the increase in the coronavirus concentration level in wastewater.
In rural towns, the same wave that will have already been clearly visible in Budapest next week, will first appear in the county capitals, then in smaller villages with a delay of two to three weeks,”
added Gábor Vattay, whose views are also shared by Gábor Zacher, chief physician of the Hatvan Hospital.
The expert also said that it is not yet clear how well the vaccines will protect against Omicron, but he is confident that this variant will not cause symptoms as severe as the Delta variant. According to Zacher, we will see how the New Year’s celebrations have affected the dynamics of the epidemic as soon as after Epiphany Day (January 6).
However, Zacher also warned that new variants could emerge as long as there are places in Asia and Africa with low vaccination rates.
Even if there are almost fully vaccinated communities, new variants can always emerge as long as there are countries with low vaccination rates,
he said, adding, “There are still letters in the Greek alphabet.”
Virus concentration increases in wastewater
After a decrease and stagnation in the previous weeks, a slight upward trend in the average SARS-CoV-2 pathogen concentration in wastewater samples was observed in the last week of 2021.
Among the cities, Budapest, Eger, Kaposvár and Szekszárd show an upward trend, while Székesfehérvár, Tatabánya, and Veszprém show a slight decrease, while in the other cities the amount of SARS-CoV-2 agent stagnates. The measured concentrations were in the “elevated range” in 10 fsampling sites and in the “medium range” in 12 cities.
Why is a textile mask not enough against omicron?
Meanwhile, doctors recommend wearing “double masks” or a so-called “N95 mask” against omicron. As the number of infections from this variant increases, people are asked not to wear textile masks because they may not provide adequate protection against the virus. Instead, they recommend combining the textile mask with “surgical masks” or switching to stronger respirators,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
Featured photo by Péter Komka/MTI