Swiss Policy Research – Some recent developments:
- The flu has returned to Russia and to Israel (see WHO FluNet). Israeli hospitals currently have about ten times more flu patients than covid patients. Regarding omicron, Israel may be switching to the “Swedish model”, but has approved a fourth vaccine dose for high-risk groups.
- Sweden is currently seeing the strongest flu wave in ten years (see chart below). Some US states, including New York, are also experiencing a very strong flu wave. In all of these places, the flu is circulating in parallel to the omicron coronavirus.
- In contrast, countries with low coronavirus infection rates have still not seen a return of the flu (e.g. Canada, Norway, Finland, Australia and Germany; in Britain, there is limited flu activity). Since March 2020, the flu had been displaced by the more infectious coronavirus.
- Omicron infection rates in Canada and Australia, but not yet in New Zealand, have gone vertical (see chart above). Although omicron is milder than delta and vaccination still helps protect against severe covid, Australia, with almost no natural immunity and a booster coverage of just 10%, appears to be seeing less of a “decoupling” between infections, hospitalizations and ICU patients than Britain and South Africa (which prior to omicron had infection rates of about 50% and 80%, respectively; in addition, Britain has a booster coverage of 50%).
- Denmark currently reports the highest coronavirus infection rate in the world; the ongoing omicron wave may reach 30% to 50% of the entire Danish population.
- In London, but not yet in other parts of Britain, the omicron wave appears to have peaked.
- China, having vaccinated most of its 1.4 billion citizens, is imposing new “starvation lockdowns” on major cities to combat rising omicron infections. If China really wants to maintain its “zero covid” policy, this could severely impact both its domestic economy and global supply chains (as it already does). (Videos of recent Chinese lockdowns.)
- The French government has announced to “deactivate” the “vaccine pass” of people without a “booster” four months after vaccination. Previously, the government decided to turn the “health pass” into a “vaccine pass”, required to access long-distance trains, restaurants (even outdoors), and most public venues, despite the obvious failure of “vaccine passes” to contain infections.
- On Monday, Germany will be seeing more than 1000 protests all over the country against repressive government policies and a potential vaccination mandate. Video footage of global civil rights protests can be found on these social media channels.
- California has overtaken Florida in terms of age-adjusted excess mortality. The German state of Bavaria, one of the most restrictive German states, has overtaken Sweden in terms of covid mortality. Previously, Austria had overtaken Sweden in terms of covid mortality. Thus, with the exception of a few islands, government interventions against covid have not been worth it.
- Europe is currently reporting “the strongest avian flu epidemic ever” in poultry farms and wild birds, which might also be a result of the previous coronavirus pandemic.
Sweden: return of the flu
California vs. Florida: age-adjusted excess mortality
France: failure of “vaccine passports”
Israel, Brazil and Spain Report First Cases of Flurona
In the midst of a new COVID-19 wave, Brazil health authorities reported the first 6 cases of flurona, a simultaneous infection with the flu and SARS-CoV-2.
Two of the reported cases are in Río de Janeiro, three in Fortaleza and one in Sao Paulo, and so far none of the cases have required hospitalization.
“It is important to highlight that there are no published scientific studies confirming the clinical or immunological implications of a joint infection; we will follow any case that is notified,” Rio de Janeiro Health Secretariat announced.
Meanwhile in Spain, the director of the Health Service of Catalonia, Gemma Craywinckel, reported the first cases of flurona
According to the Department of Health, the cases are mild. “We have some few cases, but they don’t represent a difference with respect to the others. They are few, they are anecdotal and have no more relevance,” said Craywinckel in a press conference.
Flurona was first reported in Israel at Beilinson Hospital, in the city of Petah Tikva, in a 30-year-old pregnant woman who showed mild symptoms.
Israel has logged its first official case of what’s being called “flurona,” a flu-COVID combo that yes, can happen.