COVID-19: Almost 20% more Hungarians in hospitals, ICUs than a week ago

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While the number of daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases keeps decreasing in Hungary, suggesting that the fifth wave in the coronavirus pandemic caused by the highly-congatious Omicron variant has peaked, the number of Covid patients in hospital and on ventilator keep on rising. Although this is no surprise, it's worth looking at the numbers more closely.
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The above figures may not mean much in themselves, so here's their evolution, which shows that the week-on-week change in the 7-day average of hospitalised Covid patients is growing at a diminishing rate, while the w/w change in the 7-day average of ventilated Covid patients is rising at an increasing rate.

For comparison we added also the corresponding figures from a year ago, which show that in weekly terms the number of hospitalised Covid patients was dropping at an ever smaller rate (but had never grown), while the w/w rise in the (7-day average) number of ventilated patients was almost as sharp, only it started a couple of days earlier.

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Highlights of of today's data release:

  • new cases +49% d/d, -29% w/w;
  • 7-day average of new cases -6.5% d/d, -20% w/w;
  • Covid patients in hospital -59 (-1.2%) d/d, +767 (+18%) w/w;
  • Covid patients on ventilator +9% d/d, +18% w/w;
  • Covid deaths +7 (+7%) d/d, +24 (+31%) w/w;
  • Short-term positivity rates (unreliable) started to come lower, long-term rates keep edging higher.

Short-term average positivity rates, including the 7-day average, started to drop, while long-term averages rose slightly further.

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More importantly, the 7-day / 28-day average and its 7-day average continued to fall.

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The 3-day average of hospitalised Covid patients and those on ventilator rose further.

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As regards the number of ventilated patients per those in hospital, the 7-day average has been dropping since end-December (13.5%) and is currently as low as 5.0%.

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The downturn at the top of the green curve on the left-hand chart below is promising and suggests that in terms of COVID-19 cases the fifth wave could have peaked, but it will take some time before hospitalisation, ventilation, and death figures start reflecting this.

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The left-hand chart below shows what happened a year ago. The time series spans between 1 Nov 2020 and 28 Feb 2021, and the same dates in 2021 and 2022 are indicated by the red ovals. The black oval shows when the turnaround occurred (27 Dec last year).

What do the curves tell us? Based on 7-day averages,

  1. the rise in the number of active cases continues at a diminishing rate (it has been around 0% for six consecutive days now);
  2. the number of hospitalisations also keeps rising but to an ever smaller extent;
  3. the accelerating rise in the number of ventilated Covid patients turned around on Monday but the rate of the increase picked up again (this is the impact authorities not releasing reports for three days, and dumping aggregate data on us on Monday and Tuesday).

How to read this chart?
On the two charts below the 0% line is important. When the curves are under 0% there’s a decline, when they go over 0% it’s an increase.

More importantly, when a value is north of 0% but the curve descends, it means an increase at a slowing rate, rather than a decrease. If the curve is above 0% and ascending, it is an increase at an accelerating rate. When we are under 0% and the curve goes lower, it translates into an accelerating decrease, and when it goes up it marks a decelerating decrease.

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To put the odd behaviour of the blue curve into perspective, here's the same graph for a much longer period.

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According to Gábor Zacher, head physician at the Hatvan hospital, the Omicron variant puts almost only the unvaccinated, as well as elderly, chronic patients into intensive care units. 

There is peace. There are hardly any patients in severe condition in the COVID wards. Those we treat in the intensive care unit are unvaccinated patients in 99% of cases,

he said.

42,170 people have died of coronavirus-related diseases since the outbreak in the spring of 2020. That is the official figure. The actual number is way bigger.

The aggregate figure of Covid deaths between 1 August and 8 February is slightly lower in 2021/22 (12,143) than in 2020/21 (12,652). For a monthly breakdown of Covid deaths click here.

Note that excess mortality statistics (released by the Central Statistical Office, KSH) paint a more accurate picture of the severity of the coronavirus pandemic than the numbers published by the coronavirus task force, but due to constant revisions the final (or close to final) mortality data will not be available for the period under review at least until late March.

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