FHI: The risk that Norway will need more than 500 respirators has fallen from 99.5% to 5.5%

Corona patientPhoto: Tore Meek / NTB
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The risk that Norway will need more than 500 respirator places for corona patients has fallen from 99.5% to 5.5%, according to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health’s (FHI) latest calculations.

The FHI’s latest modeling for how the corona pandemic will develop in Norway shows that the R-number has fallen from 1.41 to 1.19 in one week.

In epidemiology, the R-number or the basic reproduction number is the expected number of cases generated by one case. 

The latest calculation of 1.19 from Wednesday deals with the time after the new package of measures was announced on October 26, while the calculation from the previous week applied to the period after October 1.

Less explosive

The decline in the R-number means that corona infection continues to increase in this country – but at a much slower pace. 

That is of great importance for the FHI’s calculations for how the pandemic will develop if the infection is kept at the same level as today.

With the current infection situation, the FHI estimates that the pandemic will reach its peak in March / April. 

Just one week ago, the model showed a possible peak in February / March.

This postponement of the peak of infection can be important, precisely since it is expected that a vaccine could be ready in the new year. 

Then there will be more time to vaccinate people before the infection spreads to the top levels.

Lower needs

The latest analysis also shows that the probability of crisis conditions and overcrowded hospitals has decreased considerably with the current infection situation.

One week ago, when the R-number was 1.41, the FHI calculated that the risk of needing more than 500 respirator places in hospitals was 99.5%, with the same infection development going forward. 

Furthermore, there was an 18.5% risk that more than 1,000 ventilator seats would be needed.

It was such a scenario that Minister of Health Bent Høie (H) warned about at the government’s corona press conference on November 9, when he held up a graph where the predicted trend arrow went straight up.

“If we do not stop the spread of corona now, Christmas could be marked by illness, death, and overcrowded hospitals,” he warned.

One and a half weeks later, the FHI’s calculations may indicate that we are currently in the process of averting such a scenario.

None of the FHI’s calculation models now show that there will be a need for more than 1,000 respirator places during the pandemic. 

The risk of needing more than 500 respirator places is calculated with the current infection situation at 5.5%.

Sufficient capacity

In a normal situation, Norway has 289 intensive care units, but the health service has plans to be able to increase capacity up to 1,200 places if needed. 

In total, Norway now has 1,100 respirators, according to the Ministry of Health and Care Services.

Thus, the need will not exceed the capacity with the current infection situation, as the FHI calculates the development.

If the infection spreads at the same pace as today, the FHI still projects 1,800 cases of infection daily next week, 190 new inpatients during the week, and 19 new ventilator treatment cases.

“We see a clearly increasing trend,” the FHI noted. 

At the same time, it is emphasized that the models have made mistakes in recent weeks and overestimated how many will be admitted to hospitals.

State Secretary Anne Grethe Erlandsen (H) at the Ministry of Health points out that infection rates are now on a par with the week before and that the curve has not risen as steeply as in previous weeks.

“It may be an indication that the measures that have now been implemented have had an effect, but it is too early to conclude on this,” she told news bureau NTB.

Regional differences

The report also calculates R-numbers for different parts of Norway in the period since October 19. 

The calculations show that two counties (Agder and Rogaland) have declining infections. 

In all other counties, the infection rate has increased, but to varying degrees.

This is how the situation is calculated in different counties:

  • Oslo: 1.43
  • Rogaland: 0.76
  • Møre and Romsdal: 1.01
  • Nordland: 1.2
  • Viken: 1.21
  • Inland: 1.34
  • Vestfold and Telemark: 1.06
  • Agder: 0.56
  • Vestland: 1.07
  • Trøndelag: 1.05
  • Troms and Finnmark: 1.16

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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