After a couple of weeks' respite, I'm afraid it's time for a thread on coronavirus in the Netherlands. Because the numbers aren't looking great and the preparations for an autumn wave are non-existent. Let alone a summer wave. #zomergolf
The trend in the testing numbers has been pretty encouraging since the last peak of 70,000 positive tests a day at the start of March.
Universal testing ended on April 11, by which time the number had dropped below 7,000, and it continued to fall to 1,500 by the end of the month. Image
Since April 11 only elderly and vulnerable people have been required to confirm a positive self-test at the GGD (local health service), and only these tests have been registered. So testing no longer gives a full picture of the spread of the disease. But it's still an indication.
And if we zoom in, we see the seven-day average hit a bottom limit of 944 on May 28. Since then it's risen to 1,659. That's a 75% increase in just over two weeks. Image
The percentage of positive tests, which was just about 50% in early May, has also crept up to 63%, close to the peak level of 70% at the beginning of March. So more people are taking tests, but a greater proportion of them turn out to have Covid. This is a concern. Image
Since testing has been scaled back, the amount of virus in sewage samples has become an important marker, and here we see a similar story. The particle count increased by a factor of 2.5 (from 226 to 560) in the week from May 25 to June 1, though it's levelled off since then. Image
The most likely culprit is the BA.4/ BA.5 strain of coronavirus, which is now dominant in Amsterdam, having doubled its share in the past week.
BA.2 is on the wane and BA.1 has been eliminated by the more recent Omicron strain.
Should we be panicking about this? No. But there are good reasons to be vigilant.
First, it's June. Most experts weren't expecting to see a rise in infections before mid-July. That's been the pattern for the last two years (accelerated in 2021 by the Dansen met Janssen fiasco).
Second, in Portugal, where BA.4 and BA.5 have been dominant since May 22, the number of hospital cases is already approaching February's levels. Again, in June. Image
Attentive readers will have noticed that the downward trend in Dutch hospital cases looks to be levelling off. In fact, the week-on-week trend has started growing in the last few days, although slowly and from a low base. ImageImage
The raw numbers aren't too alarming: There are currently 361 patients in hospital with coronavirus, of whom 21 are in intensive care. These are the lowest numbers for almost a year. For comparison, on June 10, 2020 there were 413 patients and on June 10, 2021 there were 783.
But it's always worth asking how we'd cope if the numbers were 4x higher, because it typically takes 2 weeks for politicians to act on rising cases and another 2 weeks for the measures to take effect.
1400 patients is the point where the health service starts to feel the strain.
One crucial difference is that far fewer Covid patients end up in intensive care - IC cases account for around 6% of all coronavirus patients, compared to 40% a year ago. Omicron is generally milder than Delta, but 21 people will tell you that's not the case for everyone.
And although we can tolerate a higher level of infections in the community, we don't really know how many people are infected because we're not doing universal testing any more. Healthy people with mild Covid are just walking around spreading the disease, oblivious.
If you do come into contact with someone who's tested positive for Covid, you're not going to know about it because the government switched off the Coronamelder track and trace app on April 22.…
Nurses are worried that they won't be able to cope with a new influx of patients because of the high level of staff sickness in the health service (8.9% in the first quarter of 2022).…
Basic prevention measures like ventilation in schools are running way behind schedule: school leaders' organisation AVS said less than half of schools expect to have it sorted out in the next *6 months*.…
Vaccination has ground to a halt. Just 64% of the population has has three vaccine shots and the total number increased by just 5,000 in the last 6 weeks. There have been mutterings about a fourth round but no sign of a plan to extend it beyond over-60s and vulnerable people. Image
And if there is a new wave of infections any time soon, the government won't be able to bring back restrictions because parliament refused to extend the law giving them the power to do so when it expired at the start of this month.…
When infections start rise, there are two things you can do as a government. You can bring back basic, low-intrusive measures like masking, mandatory testing, working from home and social distancing to slow the spread while you get a vaccine round together.
Or you can have a big theological debate about personal responsibility while the virus quietly does its work, until you hit crisis point and are forced to bring in take much more drastic steps: limited opening hours, travel bans and closing venues.
On the evidence of Ernst Kuipers's recent media appearances, the Dutch government has already chosen the 'big theological debate' path. Asked how the government is preparing for another wave, he tells businesses and organisations to make their own plans.
Kuipers also said this week he 'hoped' there would be no new wave. Let's hope it's not the same hope his predecessor, Hugo de Jonge, wore down to rags during the previous two years, when autumn waves led to hard lockdowns.…
GroenLinks MP Lisa Westerveld summed up the frustration of the opposition in this clip: 'We've been asking for a year and a half for a long-term strategy. I'm worried the cabinet is totally unprepared for future waves.'
The infuriating thing is we know enough about this virus now, how it spreads and what we can do to reduce infections to take the right steps to ensure we can avoid excessive illness and deaths *and* draconian social restrictions.
The last lockdown in November was caused by the government failing to act quickly enough to stop the spread of Delta. If we have another lockdown this autumn, it will be the result of policy failures, not the disease itself or people not taking personal responsibility. /end

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More from @GordonDarroch

Jan 23
I'd been planning a thread on reasons to be cautiously hopeful about Dutch coronavirus infections. Then I got distracted. In hindsight that was a good thing, because in the last week much of the hope has evaporated – just as a new wave of magical thinking has broken out. 1/16
The magical thinking is that 'hospital numbers are low, omicron is mild, we can relax and treat it like a flu now.' None of these statements is wholly false, but taken together they're leading to some rash and premature decisions. 2/16
Let's start with the infection numbers. It looked as if these were nearing a peak in mid-January, when the rate of increase slowed from 80% a week to below 20% – a doubling rate of c. 4 weeks. Sounds good until you remember that they're at record levels *and still going up*. 3/16
Read 16 tweets
Oct 27, 2021
I wish I could ignore it, but professional bullshitician* Thierry Baudet's latest foray into the Covid numbers is almost a work of art. Let's take a closer look. (1/16)
(*portmanteau of 'bullshit' and 'statistician'. You're welcome)
I mean, that chart looks alarming, right? Baudet certainly thinks so and intends to ask questions in parliament about the 5,500 unexplained "excess deaths" he's found in the 6-month period from weeks 15-40 (mid-April to mid-October). (2/16)
And it's obvious where he's trying to lead you, because he's explicitly mentioned the vaccines (sorry, "vaccines") right at the start of his Very Serious Video, in a classic piece of anti-vaxxer framing. (3/16)
Read 16 tweets
Oct 26, 2021
A lot of talk at the moment about stricter rules for non-vaccinated people. Hugo de Jonge said yesterday we were dealing 'increasingly with a pandemic of the unvaccinated'. But leaving aside the moral and legal implications, the latest figures don't support that claim.
The latest RIVM press release says 80% of people in the ICU are unvaccinated. But that refers to a study published nearly 2 weeks ago based on data from September.…
In the RIVM's report we see signs that since September infections are increasing faster in the vaccinated population, though they're still just about in the minority. In September 66% of those testing positive were unvaccinated; in October that's fallen to 53% with a week to go. Image
Read 7 tweets
Mar 31, 2020
You can see from these latest charts that the #coronavirus infection rate is slowing down almost everywhere - and fastest in those countries that restricted movement first. (I don't put different countries on one graph because a) it keeps it simple and b) testing regimes vary.)
The coloured gridlines represent exponential growth rates. Red = 41.3% (doubles in 2 days). Blue = 26.0% (3 days). Orange = 18.9% (4 days). Green = 14.9% (5 days). Purple = 12.3% (6 days). Yellow = 10.4% (7 days). Raw figures are shown beneath the charts as a guide.
Italy has been below the 7-day line for over a week now. You can see in the raw numbers that infections doubled over 9 days between March 19 and 28. Once you dip below 5% your doubling rate is more than 14 days, at which point you're not really growing exponentially at all.
Read 10 tweets

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