After two winters with fewer cold and flu viruses as a result of the corona pandemic, an exceptionally large number of people are currently being affected again in Germany. “The number of hospital admissions with severe acute respiratory infections is at a high level overall, comparable to the range of values at the peak of previous flu waves,” writes the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in its Covid 19 weekly report on Thursday evening.
The RKI underlines that a total of 9.5 million acute respiratory diseases in the population were assumed for last week - this is above the level of previous years at the peak of severe flu waves. The number of doctor visits for respiratory diseases is estimated at two million - as many as "usually only in peak weeks of strong flu waves". In addition to increased transmission events, the value could also be related to the fact that people already go to the doctor with mild symptoms, it said.
Around 330 randomly examined patient samples from doctor's offices showed that primarily flu, the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and "to a lesser extent" corona occurred. It's hard to grasp what's happening in full.
In the meantime, the beginning of the feared corona winter wave cannot be reliably read from these data. The RKI writes of an eight percent increase in the nationwide seven-day incidence in the past week compared to the previous week. However, it cannot yet be conclusively confirmed whether this is a trend. Recently, the values have been at a similar level for a long time.
The flu wave in Germany started early this time: according to the RKI definition, in the week up to October 30th. In the two previous winters, there were largely no waves due to the pandemic and the measures taken to counteract it. Experts therefore feared more susceptible people in the population. The peak of influenza outbreaks is usually recorded after the turn of the year. The course of a season is considered difficult to predict.
Experts recommend vaccination to protect against the flu - this can protect against severe courses of the disease. Although our immune system cannot be trained like a muscle, it still has an influence on how many and which viruses, bacteria and germs we are exposed to. "There is something like a trained immune system - we have not trained it for infections other than corona in the last two or two and a half years. Influenza infections could therefore also be more severe in younger people," explained Ulf Dittmer, chief virologist at Essen University Medicine , in conversation with the star. He therefore advises younger people to get a flu vaccination.
The Standing Committee on Vaccination recommends influenza vaccination for everyone over the age of 60. Older people in particular have an increased risk of a severe course of the flu. Since the flu vaccine does not offer 100 percent protection against infection, it is also important to continue to observe hygiene rules and to keep a minimum distance from other people.
You can read here how to recognize the flu and what sick people should watch out for.