The third wave of COVID-19 reached Argentina with the intensity that had been seen in other parts of the world: the average of new daily cases went from 2,105 on December 6, 2021 to 59,794 with the numbers from yesterday Thursday, which represents an increase of 2,740% (that is, 27 times more).
According to the last part issued by the Ministry of Health of the Nation, the new infections added today 110,533, which brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country since the start of the pandemic to 6,135,836 cases.
Among the figures that specialists look at closely is the positivity index, this is the number of positive results in relation to the total swabs, which indicates whether the infected people are being adequately found in the population.
The number of positivity amounted to 57.62 according to this Friday’s report, which means that more than half of the people tested tested positive. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends looking at this variable to assess whether the definition of a suspected case and the amount of contact tracing is sufficient and suggests keeping it below 10%.
In the opinion of the Head of the Epidemiology Department of the Ricardo Gutiérrez Children’s Hospital, Ángela Gentile (MN 49908), “the fact of having a variant of such transmissibility, that although in general it brings mild and moderate cases, it speaks of the importance of testing properly”. “Such high positivity also tells us that we are looking for symptomatic forms, but many people with very mild or asymptomatic symptoms are not being detected, for which the number of cases could be much higher, “said the specialist, for whom” clearly the incidence of cases is directly related to what is being tested and it must be taken into account that the cases are probably more. “
In the same line, the clinical doctor and former president of the Argentine Society of Medicine, Luis Cámera (MN 51995) noted: “The positivity has to do with the large number of cases and a certain limited capacity to carry out tests in the country”.
For him, “exceeding 30% there is no doubt that there are many undiagnosed people, so approximately the number of cases must be at least double those that are registered in real and concrete way”. On the other hand, he acknowledged that “many of the tests are being carried out in tourist centers whose capacity is less than if they were in the AMBA or in the country’s large capitals.”
The rate of vaccination in the country
It is known that the percentage of the vaccinated population probably explains the low numbers of hospitalizations and occupation of Intensive Care Units (UTI). And it is also known that compared to variants such as Delta or Ómicron, having the complete vaccination scheme will make the difference in the event of a possible contagion.
Since the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 began in Argentina, 78,733,031 people have been immunized in the country. According to the latest data available in the Public Vaccination Monitor, the online registry of the Ministry of Health that shows in real time the immunization operation throughout the Argentine territory, Of this total, 38,498,937 correspond to the first dose, while 33,292,978 people received both and completed the scheme. Likewise, 6,941,116 people received an additional dose of any of the available vaccines, within the framework of the provisions of the health authorities.
Thus, while 72% of the Argentine population has two doses of any of the authorized emergency formulations against COVID-19 in the country, There are still 5,408,250 people who did not receive the second dose that completes the initial schedule, and only 15% received the third.
For Gentle, “What is clear is that this third wave caused by the Omicron variant has lower lethality, fewer serious cases and fewer hospitalizations ”. “The imprint is a strong outpatient consultation in the guards and concentration in the testing centers as it has been seen since Christmas”, described the specialist, for whom however “That does not have to be a reassuring fact because as cases increase, the more complicated forms of the disease may appear”.
“We have 28% of the population that is incompletely vaccinated or not vaccinated and that is a relatively high number in this context. Gentile assessed. We have to keep moving forward and aim for the percentage of the fully vaccinated population to be homogeneous and higher throughout the country ”. “The rhythm of third doses is slow but personally I am more concerned about that percentage that did not complete the basic two-dose schedule,” he remarked.
With her, Cámera agreed, for whom “It is a big problem to have about 6 million people without the second dose”. “Fortunately in December a good group completed their scheme and it is important that through the health pass people understand that they have to be vaccinated,” said the specialist, adding: “Most of those who did not complete their scheme are young people, among whom the virus is obviously going to circulate. With the Omicron variant, being vaccinated with one dose equates to an immune response of less than 30% so it is almost as if that person was not vaccinated”.
In that sense, for him, “it is key that the entire population is vaccinated with two doses; including the pediatric population of three years and older ”.
And regarding the rate of application of third doses in the country, Cámera considered that “it is good although there are districts that apply at a faster rate than others.” “It is important that the governing entities were able to speed up the pace in those districts that are slower. Free vaccination in those over 60 years of age, as the province of Buenos Aires did, seems to me to be a repeatable initiative in all districts”, He opined.
Summer, crowds without a chinstrap and contagion in children
Finally, the images reproduced by the media of people – mostly adolescents and young people – participating in parties in the summer resorts without a chinstrap or any social distance they worry the specialists in the current epidemiological context.
According to Cámera, “the problem is that the culture of wearing the chinstrap was lost and that is an error of sidereal dimensions ”. “According to international projections in which I participate, using the chinstrap is 80% more useful in preventing cases and reducing mortality than giving the third dose,” emphasized the specialist who advises the national health authorities.
“That Ómicron is so transmissible but is not causing such serious forms and with 72% of people vaccinated with two doses it creates a false sense of security, which led to abandoning the care protocols Gentile remarked. There is no emphasis on the use of the chinstrap that in my opinion should be used even in open spaces, the importance of hand washing, distance, ventilation and everything we have been learning is not being remembered, which added a little to the emotional exhaustion it was leaving aside ”.
And after ensuring that “In health personnel, very mild forms are being seen in people with three doses”, the specialist insisted that “we must not forget that vaccines prevent serious forms but not transmissibility.”
For the pediatric expert, “Infections rise in children, first because obviously the percentage of vaccinated is lower in this group, which is around 40-42% in pediatric patients and around 60% in adolescents.” “We have to aim to increase vaccination rates in these groups because obviously the virus is more easily transmitted in the incompletely vaccinated or unvaccinated population,” he said, although however, he highlighted that “in the Children’s Hospital there is not a substantial increase in hospitalizations and, as has been observed, the pediatric pattern is more of an outpatient consultation, but we must be vigilant because the risk is not zero and the population pediatric has very low vaccination coverage “.
Along the same lines, for Cámera “it is logical that the virus goes along the paths where it is easier to travel, which are the unvaccinated, so the pediatric population today appears as an easy target for SARS-CoV-2.”
“There are discordant data regarding the pediatric population in the international literature, but the consensus is that we do not know if with the Omicron variant, both children and infected adults will develop post-COVID syndrome in the long term,” he analyzed. It is evident that the infection is much milder and affects the lungs less, but it is not yet known what will happen with post-COVID syndrome and it is a matter of concern if one takes into account the number of infections so large that are they are seeing all over the world. With cases that in the next two months will exceed those registered in the entire pandemic, that is a concern that is latent”.