In Italy, 90% of those over 12 years of age have completed the course of vaccination. Another 5% had recovered less than six months before the SARS-CoV-2 infection, according to official estimates from the Ministry of Health. This indicates that The level of immunity to COVID-19 in the population is high, however, cases are on the rise again.
Adding to the confusion of specialists, the infection appears in many of them through symptoms even in those who have already been vaccinated or who have recently recovered from a previous infection.
With more than 730,000 positive results, and infections again at 8.4% of all infections, the numbers show the risk is even greater for unvaccinated women and younger age groups.
What is clear at this point is that the new sub-variants of Omicron – BA.4 and especially BA.5 – lead to continued spread of the virus.
Massimo Galli, Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Milan, and regarding the current situation, analyzed that “the factors involved are different, but it is clear that the virus for the thousandth time has” guessed “the mutation that allows it to continue its path”.
After explaining that “SARS-CoV-2, being relatively large, is known to not change much, but does enough to produce strains that may have higher yields from a transmissibility point of view,” he explained: “We cannot rule out that after BA.5 other more prevalent variants will arrive. We hope that the virus will gradually lose its potency, but even on this we do not have absolute certainty.
In an interview with the newspaper Corriere della SeraThey were consulted about why so many vaccinated and/or cured people had symptoms, and considered that “in the absence of scientific data, it is possible to rely on ‘feelings’, even clinical ones”. He expands: “Since the vast majority of infected persons do not report themselves to official surveillance, but instead report their condition to family and friends, It seems possible to say that with sub variants of Omicron 4 and 5 there is an increase in symptoms, not serious, but nonetheless of great importance“.
For him, “One of the reasons is, Certainly, as the number of infections increases, cases with statistical symptoms are more likely to emerge. But the virus circulating today has a pathogenicity that cannot be compared in any way to that of the first waveswhen in Italy we reached a thousand deaths a day.”
About whether the symptoms have changed with the different variables, Galle determined that “In more than two years, it has been possible to assess the effects of different strains from a quantitative point of view, in fact the level of pathogenicity, while measuring the qualitative aspect of symptoms is more difficult and there are no scientific data on this.”
He added, “There is a sense that there was a phase where reports of loss of smell and taste have receded, but now they are coming back.” At other stages, severe muscular and lumbar pain appeared to predominate. What we’re seeing now is a fair airway compromise, still less than the COVID pneumonia we’ve unfortunately learned about in the first wave of the pandemic.“.
“Currently, due to the increase in infections, the number of hospitalizations has increased, but not significantly,” Galle stressed. “With a virus that infects so many people (BA.5 has an R0 of 15, that is, a subject infects another 15 people), it is clear that the number of people who show symptoms increases and they end up in the hospital,” said the Italian expert. “However, vaccines continue to protect against serious diseases, despite the physiological decline in their effectivenessThis is why it is so important to complete the course of vaccination with the third dose, and the fourth for those over 80 and those who are immunocompromised.”
Asked what will happen in the coming months, he ventured that “the peak of the Omicron 5 will likely occur in July. Unfortunately, the hot season does not help much with such a pervasive variable,” he said in relation to the northern summer. The pros, according to his standards, are school closures and fewer opportunities for indoor meetings, another characteristic of this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere.
In the European autumn, for him, the end of the BA.5 outbreak will come. “The emergence of new variants can also occur,” he warned.
finally, On whether all people will need a fourth dose of the available vaccines, the professor at the University of Milan said that “with current vaccines this may not be particularly helpful, but if specific vaccines against new variants arrive (as some manufacturers declare)” the hypothesis could to have meaning.”
At this point, for him, common sense must prevail, with the majority of the population vaccinated or with natural antibodies due to infection, “An antibody response test can be useful in determining whether an additional dose of the vaccine is actually needed.”