How the RKI plans to keep an eye on the Corona situation
As the Omicron wave continues to build, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is taking a closer look at the burden of disease from Covid-19 in evaluations of the Corona situation. Experts have recently been reporting estimates of infected individuals with Covid-19 disease symptoms of varying severity in the Corona Weekly Report, according to the RKI publication released Thursday evening.
Corresponding incidence estimates are based on long-standing systems at the institute that monitor the development of acute respiratory illnesses in the population. One of them, for example, feeds on information from the population.
Specific to Covid-19, this means that estimates are now available on cases below the threshold for hospital admissions, such as the frequency of doctor visits: 178 per 100,000 population in the week ending Jan. 16, according to the report.
For the same period, it was estimated that "approximately 0.4 to 1.2 percent of children and adolescents up to 14 years of age and 0.5 to 1.1 percent of the population 15 years of age and older developed covid-19 with symptoms of acute respiratory illness." A total of 3900 is estimated for hospital admissions in the past week.
"The systems are largely independent of testing strategies, population and health care testing behavior, and test availability," the sources' report said. However, it said, they have limited geographic resolution.
The background for the introduction of the supplemental data is that reports on the number of people testing positive for PCR are becoming more incomplete because of the high burden in the Omicron outbreak, according to RKI estimates. Testing capacity and health departments are at their limits in many places. The RKI expects that the maximum impact of the Omicron wave in Germany can probably not be accurately measured by reporting data.
According to the institute, however, a complete registration of all infected persons was never intended. It emphasizes also now: The reporting data would not become irrelevant. They remain important for management and decisions on local measures.
The magnitude and the decisive trends in the epidemiological development would continue to be reliably indicated. But the additional data take on special significance, according to the institute. It has long insisted that situation assessments should not be based on individual indicators.
What is already available is, among other things, data on Corona intensive care patients from the so-called Divi intensive care register. According to this, there has been no reversal of the downward trend in intensive care units so far, and the number of patients treated there continued to fall to 2447, according to Thursday's daily report. The RKI writes, however, that the current infection incidence there is probably only showing up with a delay.
The RKI has also been reporting an incidence of Covid 19 hospital admissions for some time, but this has the drawback of relatively long reporting delays. However, with the Omicron variant and, according to initial findings, probably less severe courses compared to Delta, experts fear an increasing burden for normal wards.
The proportion of the Omicron variant in Germany has now increased even further, according to the RKI report. In the reporting data from the federal states, it amounted to almost 90 percent last week. Given this very high prevalence, the added benefit of variant-specific PCR testing is "limited," it said. Due to the limited test capacities as well as further strongly increasing case numbers, it is reasonable to prefer PCR tests for diagnostic purposes.
Photo by Mufid Majnun