Niki Popper expects a “peak” soon with the following reduction in new infections
Vienna – After the start of the nationwide lockdown, Austria is now probably heading for a high point in new infections, which should be followed by a reduction: “We currently estimate that we will reach the peak this week,” said simulation researcher Niki Popper on Wednesday to the APA. How quickly a waste will then go cannot currently be predicted exactly and depends on several factors.
Regionally different peaks
An obvious trend towards reduction cannot be read from the current infection numbers – on Wednesday the Ministry of the Interior and Health Ministry reported 15,365 new infections in the past 24 hours. “In the model, however, we assume that we will now reach a peak in different regions,” explained the scientist from the Technical University (TU) Vienna and the TU spin-off dwh, which is part of the forecasting consortium. Based on such a high number of positive tests as currently, it stands to reason that the number of infections cannot decrease sharply within just a few days. But you can already see “delicate” indications that this should be the case. At the moment, however, this seems to be mainly due to “anticipatory effects” before the lockdown.
“In the model we see a stabilization based on contact reduction, reduced mobility and immunization,” says Popper. But one would have to come down from the previously unknown high plateau in this country and that will be seen by the beginning of next week. “It is not enough for us if we stick to the current figures, because that leads to further loading and overloading of the system.” Unfortunately, it is clear that the number of intensive care patients “will continue to rise” for a while, said Popper.
Reducing the number of infections is crucial
The decisive question now is how quickly the infection numbers can be depressed. Here the researchers are particularly looking at the further reduction in mobility, operation in schools – including the question of how well monitoring works across Austria or how it can be improved – and the use of home offices. One problem for the model computer is that in many areas of Austria the PCR test system, which was previously by no means comprehensive, is under considerable pressure.
Where the journey is going should then become much clearer by the beginning to the middle of next week at the latest. With seven more days of infection development, the evaluation of the effectiveness of the lockdown, which according to the plans of the federal government is to take place ten days after the start, is expected to result. Popper: “That is exactly where we try to contribute in such phases to classify the dynamics as early as possible.” If there were hardly anything to be seen by then, “we would have to reduce the assessment of the effectiveness in the model that is now assumed – on the basis of current data and the previous effectiveness of lockdowns”, says Popper.
Mobility restricted from “Lockdown for Unvaccinated”
The APA’s evaluations by researchers at the Complexity Science Hub (CSH) Vienna led by Peter Klimek based on anonymized data from cell phones show that some Austrians restricted their mobility even before the hard lockdown was announced at the end of last week. Accordingly, from the “lockdown for unvaccinated people” (from November 15), a development had already started in which people noticeably restricted their range of motion. This is roughly comparable to the reduction that occurred last autumn when the exit restrictions began on November 3rd.
However, the now recorded reduction is quite different in the various federal states. Compared to the same days of the week in the previous month (from October 11 to 17, 2021), the most significant reduction in mobility occurred in the federal states that were particularly badly affected by new Covid-19 infections. In Salzburg there was a minus of 16.9 percent, in Upper Austria mobility fell by 14.7 percent. In Burgenland there was a minus of 13.6 percent. Tyrol, Lower Austria and Styria had values a little over twelve percent. These “anticipatory effects” were lowest in Vienna (minus 10.7 percent), Vorarlberg (minus 8.5 percent) and Carinthia (minus 8.3 percent).
At the moment, of course, the question arises as to how the targeted contact reduction in the population has been implemented since the tough lockdown began on Monday (November 22nd). As is well known, public life slowed down significantly in the first lockdown in spring 2020. At that time, mobility across Austria was reduced by around 40 percent compared to the average values before the start of the pandemic in January 2020. On the first day of the current hard lockdown, however, the reduction was only 18 percent compared to the reference value, as the “Kleine Zeitung” said on Wednesday, citing data from Graz company Invenium reports. For comparison: in the lockdowns last autumn and spring, the decrease in mobility was around 25 percent. (WHAT)