The fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is gaining momentum. Wednesday and Thursday were the days with the highest number of new coronavirus infections and deaths this fall. What is the current epidemic situation in relation to the one from last year? We compare data on infections, deaths, hospitalizations and seized ventilators in the second and fourth wave. We also present forecasts for the development of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing fourth wave began to accelerate in September. In 2020, the threshold of 1,000 coronavirus infections was surpassed for the first time on September 19, when 1,002 cases were recorded. This year it happened on September 29, when the Ministry of Health reported 1,234 cases.
How the second and fourth waves of coronavirus infections unfolded
On October 1, 2020, the average daily number of infections, calculated on the basis of data from the last 7 days, was 1525. Ten days later this number was more than twice as high (3,357). On October 20, 2020, the average daily number of infections in the last seven days exceeded eight thousand and amounted to 8,180. At the end of the month, it was already on average 17,255 detected cases.
Thus, in October 2020, the average number of infections increased by over 15,000.
In turn, on October 1, 2021, the same average, calculated on the basis of data from the last 7 days, was 966. This means that on average 559 cases were detected less than on the same day in 2020. On October 10, the average number of infections was 1,648, i.e. it was more than two times lower than a year ago.
Data from the following days indicate that a year ago, the pandemic wave accelerated much faster. On October 20, 2021, the average number of infections is 3,222, which is nearly five thousand less than a year ago. You can see an even bigger difference when comparing the end of the month. On October 31, 2021, there were 7,469 average cases detected, which is almost 10,000 less than the year before.
In October 2021, the average number of infections increased by slightly more than 6.5 thousand.
The fourth wave began to gain strength in November. On November 6, the average daily number of infections calculated on the basis of the data from the last 7 days for the first time exceeded ten thousand and amounted to 10 513. Currently (November 18) it is 16,703, so within 12 days it increased by over six thousand. On Wednesday and Thursday, the Ministry of Health reported the highest daily increases in infections to date in the fourth wave of the pandemic. They were accordingly 24 239 and 24 882 new illnesses.
According to Dr. Franciszek Rakowski from the Interdisciplinary Center for Mathematical and Computational Modeling at the University of Warsaw (ICM UW), the peak of the current wave of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infections will be at the beginning of December. – The phase of the fastest climb to the top is already behind us. So the increases will slow down. We predict that we will achieve an average infection rate of 27,000-28,000. Of course, we are talking about the daily average over seven days. This means that the reading in the middle of the week – on Wednesday or Thursday – can easily reach up to 38,000 infections – he explained.
In November 2020, the second wave of the pandemic reached its peak. The highest daily increase in infections was recorded on November 7, when the health ministry reported 27,875 cases. The average daily number of infections, calculated on the basis of data from the last 7 days, increased until November 11, inclusive, when it reached the level of 25,615. A week later (November 18) it was 22,001 on average detected, and at the end of the month this number was 13,092 For the first time, the average dropped below 10,000 on December 17, 2020 (9,971).
Second and fourth waves of the pandemic – comparison of the number of deaths from COVID-19
The differences in the development of the second and fourth waves of the pandemic are also visible in the average number of deaths over the last seven days. On October 1, 2020, it was 25, and a year later it was 16. Ten days later, it was 53 and 25, respectively. On October 20, 2020, the average number of deaths was 89, and in 2021 it was 42.
In the second wave of the pandemic, a marked increase in the number of deaths began at the turn of October and November. On October 31, 2020, there were an average of 183 deaths due to COVID-19, and on November 10, already 325. The peak of the average number of deaths due to COVID-19 was reached on November 25, when this data was 505. On the same day, the highest daily increase in the number of deaths was also recorded reported by the Ministry of Health. 674 people with COVID-19 died then. The average number of deaths in the second wave began to decline markedly in December. On December 1, there were 469 deaths on average due to the coronavirus, and at the end of the month – 257.
On November 1, 2021, the average number of deaths due to COVID-19 was 81. For 16 days of this month it more than doubled and on November 16 it amounted to 169. As in the case of the number of new infections, Wednesday and Thursday were the days with the highest rates in the reports of the Ministry of Health. increase in deaths in the fourth wave of the pandemic. The ministry reported 463 and 370 deaths respectively, bringing the average of 196 over the last seven days.
According to Dr. Rakowski, the fourth wave will be the last one to contain infections targeting a “clean organism” that is not protected by antibodies. – And it is these infections that later cause the most hospitalizations, admissions to the ICU and, consequently, deaths. The next waves will already occur in the largely immunized population, the expert assessed.
Second and fourth waves of the pandemic – comparison of the number of hospitalized and used ventilators
Discrepancies in the course of the second and fourth waves of the pandemic can also be seen in the example of the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19. On September 1, 2020, it was 2,138 people, and a year later – 465 people. It is worth noting, however, that in 2020, a month after the outbreak of the epidemic, the number of hospitalized patients was over two thousand, and in the summer it never dropped below the level of 1,500. On the other hand, in July and August 2021, the level of less than a thousand hospitalized patients remained, for several days it fell even below three hundred.
On October 1, 2020, there were 2,560 people in hospitals. Over a month, this number increased by almost 15,000 and was 16,144 on October 31. It increased up to and including November 17, when it reached 23,033 hospitalizations. At the end of November, it was 21,504 people, and at the end of December 16,970 people.
On October 1, 2021, 1,687 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19. At the end of the month it was already 6,866, which means an increase by more than 5,000. Definitely more hospitalized patients came in the following month. On November 8, the threshold of 10,000 people in hospitals (10,221) was exceeded, now it is already 15,713 people.
The comparison of the second and fourth waves of the pandemic is similar in terms of the number of occupied ventilators, which has never dropped below 35 since it was included in the Ministry of Health’s daily reports (June 2020).
On September 1, 2020, 86 people were under respirators, and on October 1 – 159 people. Over the next 30 days, there was a sharp increase and at the end of this month it was already 1,305 patients with COVID-19 who needed to be connected to the apparatus. The second wave peaked in this regard on November 23, when 2,149 ventilators were seized. On December 1 it was 2032, and December 31, 1607.
In turn, on September 1, 2021, 55 people were under respirators. A month later, there were already 172 people, which means a faster increase than the year before. October, however, was not a month of such rapid increases as a year earlier. Experts emphasize that this is influenced by vaccinations against COVID-19, which protect against the severe course of coronavirus infection. Vaccination was not yet available during the second wave of the pandemic. On October 31, 580 people lay under respirators. On November 11, this number exceeded a thousand for the first time. It is currently 1345.
According to Dr. Franciszek Rakowski, “the model used by his team shows that around Christmas there will be a peak in hospitalization”. “We’ll need around 30,000 beds for COVID-19 patients then,” he said.
Main photo source: Jacek Szydłowski / PAP