Cold wave Corona, RSV or flu? These pathogens are causing us to cough and sniffle
Runny nose, cough, cold: the respiratory infection season is in full swing
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Staff absences and mountains of tissues: two cold pathogens in particular are making our lives difficult. And: How well you are protected against a serious infection also depends on where you live.
The first snowflakes may be an unmistakable sign that winter is approaching, but other indications include: emergency care at daycare, idle hours at school and coughing colleagues in the home office. The cold season and increasing corona cases are already putting a strain on people’s everyday lives. Nevertheless, interest in protective vaccinations remains limited. The most important questions and answers at a glance.
Which cold pathogens are currently causing the biggest problems?
According to data from the Robert Koch Institute, rhinoviruses and SARS-CoV-2 were mainly circulating in the past week, although rhinoviruses have recently become more common. The seven-day incidence for corona diseases was recently 28, four percent higher than the week before. The incidence refers to the number of COVID-19 cases reported to the RKI per 100,000 inhabitants within 7 days. At 104, there is the highest value in the age group of 80 and over. However, there is hardly any testing anymore, which is why statisticians now have much less data available for their calculations than in previous years.
The predominant variant in Germany is currently: EG.5 – also called Eris. However, the severity of the disease in this Omicron derivative is unchanged compared to other current variants.
There are also signs of increasing circulation of the RS virus. The number of severe respiratory diseases caused by RSV has been increasing significantly in the last three weeks, especially among children under four years of age.
Who gets seriously ill and who has to go to the hospital?
Overall, the number of people going to the doctor because of a respiratory disease is increasing. However, due to vaccinations and infections, severe corona courses in particular have become much rarer. The occupancy of intensive care beds with corona patients is also at a low level of 5.3 percent. 658 patients with Corona are currently being ventilated. The number of deaths associated with a SARS-CoV-2 infection was 375 across Germany in the week from November 12th to 19th. In November 2022 there were more than 1,000.
What about vaccination protection?
After the second prick it becomes thin – you can say that much. When it comes to basic immunization, the Germans are not doing too badly: 76.4 percent were vaccinated twice. Among those over 60, the figure is even 90.1 percent. But then the numbers decrease: only 85.5 percent of the “60 plus” group took part in the first booster vaccination. Interest in the second refresh is even smaller: just 40.7 percent of them have received it.
The regional distribution is also striking. The frontrunner is once again the north of Germany: While in Schleswig-Holstein 63.8 percent of people over 60 were vaccinated four times and in Bremen 55.8 percent, in Thuringia with 21.3 percent and in Saxony with 22, 2 percent significantly fewer people in this age group with a second booster vaccination.
This situation is unlikely to change much in the next few months. Because the number of new vaccinations is manageable. Last Monday, for example, just 884 people across Germany were vaccinated against Corona, most of them came for booster vaccinations.
Who needs how many vaccinations?
The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) of the Robert Koch Institute recommends that all adults have basic immunity against SARS-CoV-2. This can be achieved either with two vaccinations and at least one infection or with three vaccinations. In addition, people with an increased risk of a severe course of COVID-19 should receive further booster vaccinations – ideally with vaccines that are adapted to current virus variants. The rule of thumb is a minimum interval of twelve months. If you become infected in the meantime, the window is extended.
All people over 60 or those with underlying illnesses are considered a risk group. Booster vaccinations are also recommended for residents of nursing homes, people with an increased occupational risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and close contacts of people for whom the vaccination is unlikely to build up a protective immune response.
And what about the flu (influenza)?
In the 47th reporting week of this year, more influenza virus infections were reported to the Robert Koch Institute with 460 cases than in previous weeks, but the number of infections remains low for the time being. There is currently no sign of an incipient flu wave. That’s not unusual. Influenza infections typically peak in the first quarter of a year. If you don’t want to lie in bed sick, you can still get vaccinated. Immunization is particularly recommended for risk groups; influenza infection can ultimately be dangerous for them. Who does that mean? These are the same groups for whom booster vaccinations against Corona are recommended.
Tipp: You can also get vaccinated against corona and flu at the same time: once in the right arm, once in the left arm.