No surge expected in global COVID-19 cases this winter, says IHME report

IHME’s report suggests that the current surge in COVID-19 infections in Germany might be due to Omicron subvariants BQ.1 or BQ.1.1

October 26, 2022 06:13 am | Updated 06:13 am IST

According to IHME, the global impact of XBB is expected to be muted by the fact that people who were previously infected with the BA.5 subvariant of Omicron likely have immunity against it. Image for representation.

According to IHME, the global impact of XBB is expected to be muted by the fact that people who were previously infected with the BA.5 subvariant of Omicron likely have immunity against it. Image for representation. | Photo Credit: R. V. Moorthy

Global COVID-19 infections are projected to rise slowly to about 18.7 million average daily cases by February next year from the current 16.7 million daily driven by the northern hemisphere’s winter months, the University of Washington said in an analysis. The increase in infections is not expected to cause a surge in deaths, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) said. It forecast that global daily deaths would average 2,748 people on February 1 compared with around 1,660 now.

IHME estimates that daily infections in the United States will increase by a third to more than a million, driven by students returning to school and cold weather-related seasonal illness.

A surge in Germany has peaked already, it said in its report on October 24 , and expects cases to fall by more than a third to around 190,000 by February.

IHME’s report suggests that the current surge in COVID-19 infections in Germany might be due to Omicron subvariants BQ.1 or BQ.1.1, and will likely spread to other parts of Europe in the coming weeks.

The report adds that the rapid increase in hospital admissions in Germany – highest since the COVID outbreak in 2020 – remains an area of concern.

IHME’s analysis also shows that the new Omicron subvariant XBB, which is currently driving a surge in hospitalizations in Singapore, is more transmissible but less severe.

The global impact of XBB is expected to be muted by the fact that people who were previously infected with the BA.5 subvariant of Omicron likely have immunity against it, the report shows.

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