People ask me why we aren’t seeing a steep rise in severe morbidity in countries that have already vaccinated large parts of their population (e.g., Israel, UK). Isn’t that questioning my scientific interpretation of the new pandemic (i.e., the pandemic of Covid-19’s highly infectious VARIANTS)?
As none of the leading health authorities seems to pay a lot of attention to my warning, I have no choice, indeed, but to draw people’s attention to how these curves will evolve over the coming weeks.
I sincerely wish the morbidity curves in these countries would already contradict my assessment. However, it’s too early to make that call. High vaccination rates in these countries have led to a steep decrease in infection rates and now seem to level off at a plateau which, however, is higher than previously seen. There can be no doubt that intensified mass vaccination campaigns in these countries have given the virus a serious blow in the face. Hence, why infection rates dropped quite spectacularly (although the vaccines cannot prevent infection, they still reduce transmission of the more infectious variants). High vaccine-mediated immunologic pressure will, however, not suffice to eradicate the virus as encounters of the virus with vaccinal (and/ or infection-induced!) Abs increasingly occur on a background of suboptimal immunity (due to mismatch between Abs and variant strains). But it’s of course not like S-selective immune escape variants will all of a sudden become dominant. As they’re more infectious, they’ll outcompete less infectious editions of Covid-19 but it’ll still take time for them to get to sufficient numbers to dominate the scene.
Consequently, what one can expect to see is that in countries where the vaccination campaigns move rather slowly (e.g., Belgium), the decrease in viral infections is less pronounced and only followed by a short-lived plateau before the rebound effect comes into play (this is the stage we’re in right now in Belgium).
In countries with a more aggressive mass vaccination program, the steep decline in infections is likely to be followed by a more stretched plateau. The latter can be expected to transition into a much steeper rise in morbidity curves with much higher peaks. There is no precedent of a such situation, so nobody can really predict when exactly this is going to happen. However, I expect this to happen quite fast, most likely within the coming 2-4 weeks.