Covid in Italy: 'Spike in infections, +58.9% in a week'
In the week of 15-21 June, there were 255,442 new Covid cases in Italy. There was also an increase in ordinary admissions, +14.4%, and in intensive care, +12.6%
The Gimbe Foundation’s independent monitoring reveals an increase in new cases (255,442 vs 160,751, i.e. +58.9%) and a decrease in deaths (337 vs 416, i.e. -19%, of which 52 referred to previous periods) in the week 15-21 June 2022, compared to the previous week.
Currently positive cases (599,930 vs 603,882, -3,952, i.e. -0.7%) and people in home isolation (594,921 vs 599,500, -4,579, i.e. -0.8%) decreased, while admissions with symptoms (4,803 vs 4,199, +604, i.e. +14.4%) and intensive care (206 vs 183, +23, i.e. +12.6%) increased.
We are witnessing a sharp increase in new cases per week, +58.9% compared to the previous week,’ says the president of the Gimbe Foundation, Nino Cartabellotta, ‘which is around 255,000 with a 7-day moving average of more than 36,000 cases per day.
In the week of 15-21 June, the percentage increase in new Covid cases was recorded in all regions of Italy: from +31.3% in Valle d’Aosta to +91.5% in Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Compared with the previous week, only in 2 provinces was there a percentage reduction in new cases (Caltanissetta -10.2% and Vibo Valentia -10.2%), while the number of provinces where there was an increase rose from 99 to 105 (from +5.6% in Crotone to +131.7% in Reggio Calabria).
In 16 provinces, the incidence exceeds 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants: Cagliari (934), South Sardinia (705), Rome (635), Ragusa (607), Palermo (602), Venice (592), Rimini (583), Catania (583), Treviso (580), Siracusa (579), Forlì-Cesena (570), Ravenna (555), Udine (526), Terni (505), Foggia (503) and Bologna (502).
With regard to the new variants, the flash survey of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità conducted on samples on 7 June confirms the increased prevalence of the sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, at 11.4% (range 0-32.3%) and 23.2% (range 8-100%) respectively, to the detriment of BA.2, which drops to 63% (range 0% – 85.7%).
COVID IN ITALY: VARIANTS BA.4 and BA.5 MORE TRANSMISSIBLE THAN BA.2
‘The wide margins of uncertainty,’ Cartabellotta explains, ‘are determined by insufficient statistical sampling, which, together with the monthly frequency of the flash survey, indicate that sequencing activities in our country have not been adequately enhanced to respond to the spread of new variants in a timely manner.
At present, evidence and data confirm that BA.4 and BA.5 are not associated with greater Covid-19 disease severity, but are more transmissible than BA.2 and have a greater ability to evade immune protection from vaccine and previous infection, increasing the likelihood of reinfection.
‘The possible impact on hospital admissions of the new variants,’ Cartabellotta comments, ‘depends on the magnitude of the increase in cases, as well as the vaccination coverage rates of the population with three doses, or four in vulnerable people’.
According to the latest report of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, in the period 24 August 2021-12 June 2022, more than 532,000 re-infections were recorded in Italy, equal to 4% of the total number of cases.
Their incidence in the week 9-15 June stood at 7.4% (13,152 re-infections), up from the previous week (6.3%).
‘The risk of re-infection,’ Cartabellotta emphasises, ‘is greater for certain categories: people aged 12-49 years compared to those over 50, women compared to men, people with a first diagnosis of Covid-19 notified for more than 210 days, unvaccinated people, who present the highest risk of re-infection, or vaccinated with at least one dose for more than 120 days, healthcare workers compared to the rest of the population.
There was an increase in the number of total swabs (+12.6%): from 1,155,381 in the week 8-14 June 2022 to 1,300,905 in the week 15-21 June 2022.
In particular, rapid swabs increased by 16.1% (+139,103), while molecular swabs increased by 2.2% (+6,421).
The 7-day moving average positivity rate rose from 6.9% to 9.5% for molecular swabs and from 16.3% to 23% for rapid antigenic swabs. On the hospital front,’ says the operational director of the Gimbe Foundation, Marco Mosti, ‘the increase in new cases has led to a reversal of the trend in admissions both in the medical area, +14.4%, and in intensive care, +12.6%)’.
In particular, in the critical area, from a minimum of 183 on 12 June, the number of occupied beds rose to 206 on 21 June; in the medical area, on the other hand, after reaching a minimum of 4,076 on 11 June, they rose to 4,803 on 21 June.
As at 21 June, the national rate of occupancy by Covid patients was 7.5% in the medical area (from 3.6% in Piedmont to 17.2% in Umbria and Sicily) and 2.2% in the critical area (from 0% in Basilicata and the autonomous province of Trento to 7.7% in Valle d’Aosta).
There was a slight increase in daily admissions to intensive care units,’ Mosti pointed out, ‘with a 7-day moving average of 23 admissions/day compared to 20 in the previous week.
ITALY, DEATHS FROM COVID FALL
Deaths are falling again: 337 in the last 7 days (of which 52 refer to previous periods), with an average of 48 per day compared to 59 the previous week.
As of 22 June (update at 6.16 a.m.), 88.1% of the population (50,797,838) had received at least one dose of vaccine (+8,611 compared to the previous week) and 86.6% (49,920,755) had completed the vaccination cycle (+13,047 compared to the previous week).
In the week of 15-21 June, the number of newly vaccinated decreased: 2,981 compared to 3,253 in the previous week (-8.4%). Of these, 36.2% were in the 5-11 bracket: 1,078, down 11.3% from the previous week.
Among the over-50s, who are most at risk of serious illness, the number of newly vaccinated fell to 805 (-8.9% compared to the previous week).
As of 22 June (updRead Also:ate at 6.16 a.m.), 6.85 million people over the age of 5 had not received a single dose of vaccine, of which 4.03 million are currently vaccine-protected, equal to 7% of the population, with clear regional differences: from 4.1% in the autonomous province of Trento to 10.2% in Calabria, and 2.82 million are temporarily protected because they have been cured of Covid-19 for less than 180 days, equal to 4.9% of the population, with clear regional differences: from 3.0% in Molise to 9.7% in the autonomous province of Bolzano.
As of 22 June (update at 6.16 a.m.), 2,584,435 doses have been administered in the 5-11 year age bracket: 1,395,562 have received at least 1 dose of vaccine (of which 1,272,988 have completed the vaccination cycle), with a national coverage rate of 38.2%, with clear regional differences: from 20.8% in the autonomous province of Bolzano to 53.8% in Puglia.
As of 22 June (update at 6.16 a.m.), 39,720,529 third doses have been administered, with a 7-day moving average of 5,948 administrations per day.
On the basis of the official coverage (47,703,593), updated on 20 May, the national coverage rate for third doses is 83.3% with clear regional differences: from 77.5% in Sicily to 87.3% in Valle d’Aosta.
There are 7.98 million people who have not yet received the booster dose, of whom 5.51 million can receive it immediately, equal to 11.5% of the audience with clear regional differences: from 8.2% in Basilicata to 16.8% in the autonomous province of Bolzano; 2.47 million cannot receive it immediately because they have been cured for less than 120 days, equal to 5.2% of the audience with clear regional differences: from 2.4% in Valle d’Aosta to 8% in Umbria.
The data of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità show that the efficacy on diagnosis remains substantially stable from 40.8% for those vaccinated with two doses within 90 days to 45.9% for those vaccinated for more than 120 days, then rising to 55.2% after booster and that the efficacy on severe disease remains substantially stable from 69.2% for those vaccinated with two doses within 90 days to 71% for those vaccinated for more than 120 days, then rising to 86.5% after booster.
On the whole, the incidence of diagnoses in people vaccinated with a complete cycle (plus any booster dose), compared to those not vaccinated, is reduced in the various age brackets (by 4.3-59.8%): the exceptions are the 5-11 age bracket, for which diagnoses among the vaccinated mark +22.6% compared to the unvaccinated, and the 40-59 bracket with +10.4%. In all age brackets, the incidence of serious illness (by 24-78.9% for ordinary admissions; by 42.1-85% for intensive care) and death (by 42.5-88.4%) decreased.
As of 22 June (update at 6.16 a.m.), 316,667 fourth doses had been administered to immunocompromised people, with a moving average of 1,862 administrations per day, down from 2,283 last week (-18.4%).
On the basis of the official coverage (791,376), updated on 20 May, the national coverage rate for fourth doses is 40% with clear regional differences: from 8.8% in Calabria to 100% in Piedmont.
As of 22 June (update at 6.16 a.m.), 845,043 fourth doses have been administered to the over-80s, the frail (60-79 years of age) and RSA guests, with a moving average of 5,669 administrations per day, down from 6,820 last week (-16.9%).
Based on the official population (4,422,597 of whom 2,795,910 are over 80, 1,538,588 frail patients in the 60-79 age bracket and 88,099 RSA guests who do not fall into the above categories), updated on 20 May, the national coverage rate for fourth doses is 19.1% with clear regional differences: from 5.5% in Calabria to 39.6% in Piedmont.
CARTABELLOTTA: CLEAR RECOVERY OF COVID THROUGHOUT ITALY
‘The gradual spread of the BA.4 and BA.5 variants,’ Cartabellotta informs, ‘has contributed to a clear resurgence of the viral circulation throughout the country with effects that are already evident even in hospitals: in particular, in the medical area where in 10 days there has been an increase of over 700 beds occupied by Covid patients.
Consequently, the Gimbe Foundation urges caution for at least three reasons. First of all, the number of positives, about 600,000, is largely underestimated due to the massive use of do-it-yourself swabs with partial notification of positive tests; secondly, it is impossible to estimate the extent of this early summer rise and the time it will take to reach the peak; finally, the stalemate in the vaccination campaign has generated a population currently susceptible to infection that is very large: 4.03 million unvaccinated, 5.51 million without a third dose and 4.05 million vulnerable people without a fourth dose’.
Consequently,’ he continues, ‘at this stage of the pandemic, it is crucial to reduce viral circulation, in particular by wearing masks in indoor places, especially if they are crowded and/or poorly ventilated and in conditions of large gatherings, even outdoors.
Institutions, for their part, must step up the vaccination campaign in all persons at risk of serious disease, increasing coverage with the third dose in the over-50s and with the fourth dose in all vulnerable persons included in the audience’.
Last but not least – Cartabellotta concludes – avoid disorientating the population with anti-scientific and risky proposals for public health, such as the abolition of isolation for positives’.