“Second wave” age composition

Positive PCR tests per age group per week in Zurich (NZZ)

Published: October 2, 2020
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The above chart shows positive PCR tests per age group per week in the Canton of Zurich in Switzerland. The picture looks similar in most of Europe: the increase in positive test results since late summer has mostly been due to people of school and working age (20 to 40 and 40 to 60), not senior citizens and the elderly. Therefore, hospitalizations and deaths have remained low.

Moreover, according to antibody data, the first infection wave was at least ten times bigger than shown in the above PCR test diagram. To understand the full magnitude of this discrepancy between virus transmission speed and testing capacity, consider this impressive chart by the Economist.

However, the actual coronavirus season in the Northern hemisphere only really begins in December (lasting until May); thus, given still low antibody values (<10%) in much of Europe (and the US), the actual challenge may still lie ahead (unless you’re Japanese).

Healthy people of working age catching covid rarely need to go to hospital, but they can never­the­less develop pneumonia (even if their case remains “mild”) and experience post-acute covid.

In Switzerland, symptomatic army recruits still had an up to 20% decrease in maximum lung performance 1 to 2 months after infection; in Sweden, a survey estimates that 100,000 to 150,000 people currently experience post-acute covid for more than 10 weeks (showing post-viral fatigue, chest pain or other symptoms). Then again, many have already improved or recovered.

Thus the new coronavirus, due to its unique genetic structure (FCS-enhanced ACE2 receptor binding domain), remains a non-trivial, but increasingly manageable challenge, especially considering recent progress in early and prophylactic treatment options.

Additional charts

1) Seasonality of respiratory viruses
Seasonality of respiratory viruses
2) Antibody values in Italy by region
Italy: Antibody (IgG) prevalence by region (ISTAT, August 2020)
3) PCR tests versus actual virus infections

See also

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