Day 868 – Austria removes mandatory isolation

I’m speechless.

The People’s Party ÖVP and the green Party actually finalized their decision to remove quarantine for positive Covid-19 cases. People who test positive will no longer be required to self-isolate. They will be allowed to leave their house with a FFP2 mask but there won’t be any controls – all in individual responsibility. People without symptoms will be allowed to work but it’s on them to say if they actually have symptoms or not. People with symptoms may take sick leave but research shows that 52,2% of sick workers actually go to work – mainly because protection against dismissal is rather ill-defined in Austria but also achievement-orientated thinking dominates in many companies – the less sick leave, the better your chances to step up on the career ladder.

The only protection for vulnerable groups will be the reintroduction of sick note by phone – i.e., positive workers don’t have to go to the doctor and threaten vulnerable patients – and gardening leave for a very narrow group of vulnerable people – limited in time till October.

Thanks to a leak to a popular newspaper, the order draft has been published a few days before, on 21th July. The green health minister claimed, it wouldn’t be completed and they would work with several options. He also claimed it would be coordinated with the federal provinces. Turns out five days later, the order draft has been the final order. The reasoning for removing mandatory isolation is obviously flawed basing upon false assumptions about the severity of BA.5 and OMICRON subvariants in general. They claim that ….

  • degree of covid19 patients wouldn’t overwhelm health capacities
  • the lack of personal in health facilities could be managed by “mild” measures.
  • the properties of BA.5 would be comparable with BA.2
  • international course would be the removal of quarantine rules
  • the possibility to let asymptomatic workers go to work would mitigate the lack of personal
OMICRON is not mild – deaths with BA.1 and BA.2 lied between ALPHA and DELTA.

An internal specialist recently opposed to the claim the number of (covid-19) patients would we low:

There would be daily negotiations or even conflicts between emergency units which have to forward sick people and stations which are overwhelmed. Many hospitals in the federal provinces are full. The pressure is rising to set up beds in the corridor in covid stations – which could be prevented by taking noncovid beds away.

Course of hospital beds in entire Austria since 01st February 2022. Current status is have of the BA.2 wave but with only 1 month of BA.5 dominance.

Recently, virologist Florian Krammer held a talk about the evolution of SARS-CoV2 and gave an outlook what we can expect in the future. His summary:

  • evolution of SARS-CoV2 remains unpredictable and the virus is there to stay
  • updated vaccines are needed (a process that guides vaccine updates, also from the regulatory side is needed)
  • improved SARS-CoV2 vaccines are needed (mucosal immunity to inhibit infection/transmission; vaccines (e.g. multivalent or other strategies) that induce broader protection including future variants – variant-proof vaccines)
  • long covid is real, we don’t understand it well, vaccinated individuales can get it and we do not know how to treat it well
  • immunocompromised individuals reamin at risk (even if the virus becomes a seasonal nuisance for the general population)

Sounds pretty grim, the pandemic is far from over just because politicians decided it should be over.

Environmental Health Officer Hans-Peter Hutter cleary stated it’s a mistake to remove isolation at this stage of the pandemic:

“The decision is not comprehensible from a medical point of view. We made a mistake a few months ago as we removed the other protective measures and we just make the next mistake now with quarantine.” (ORF2, 25.07.22)

The government claimed most of european countries already removed isolation but only 5 countries did it. Even if so just because lemmings fell over a cliff, we shouldn’t follow the herd. We’re not living with covid, we’re dying from it (McLellan and Abbasi 2022)

Labor lawyers like Roland Gerlach or Katharina Körber-Risak warn about the consequences of positive co-workers threatening vulnerable AND healthy co-workers with a highly infectious and potentially deadly disease.

The stated similarity between BA.5 and BA.2 isn’t verified by latest research: Kislaya et al. (25.07.22, preprint) confirms a recent paper by Hansen et al. (18.07.22, preprint) about increased risk of hospitalisation with BA.5, the rate of hospitalisation is more than 3 fold higher than BA.2, and a significant risk of reinfection. Vaccine efficiency against hospitalisation is reduced from 93% (BA.2) to 77% (BA.5) – which is a significant decrease on population level.

UK is no role model for us – high rates of hospitalisation despite high rates during delta and BA.2 before.

In Bavaria, number of patients is surging, too – even overturning DELTA yesterday.

The increased severity of BA.5 is not a surprise for anyone following REAL experts on twitter. So even when health minister and other politicians slur twitter users, they shouldn’t forget the degree of the audience here. Thanks to twitter I know for example that BA.5 uses the same cell entry as DELTA. For now, BA.5 embodies the most contagious variant since the beginning of the pandemic, with properties approaching severity of DELTA. And then there is also long covid.

The general director for public health, situated in the health ministry and chair of the “expert commission” GECKO, Katharina Reich, defended the decision:

“We know that we cannot test us free (“freitesten”) from the pandemic, we also cannot vaccinate us free (“freimpfen”). We know that. We also cannot isolate ourselves (“wegisolieren”) from it.” (Zib2, 25.07.22, Austrian Broadcast Corporation news with biggest range)

Terrible wording, almost identical to militant covid deniers and anti-vaxxers who wrote on their demonstration signs “Impfen macht frei”. She didn’t seem to know the true meaning of quarantine – infected people do not have to be isolated because of being sick or symptomatic but because they are infectious and can spread the virus to people who are not so lucky with good immune protection or long covid.

Excess mortality in Spain, as high as during the winter wave 1,5 years ago. Only a small part can be addressed to the devastating heat wave (16% in July). Infected people are allowed to go to work since 19th April 2022, no isolation or quarantine anymore.

Keske et al. (15.07.22) have shown that symptomatic and asymptomatic patients having omicron variants are similarly infectious, for about 10 days in 11% of cases. At day 5 where current mandatory isolation ends, 83% of the examined patients were still infectious. More than 50% of transmission occurs before symptoms show up. This has been true before omicron and is still valid for all omicron subvariants (Manica et al., 30.06.22, Townsley et al., 10.07.22).

Did anyone inform the health minister that ….

  • children under 5 neither have drugs or vaccines against covid19?
  • vulnerable groups do not only live in health and elderly care facitilities? This godforsaken rules now lead to healthy and vulnerable people staying at home because they don’t want to get infected, and infected people dominating public space – fulfulling all wishes of right wing movements who used covid denial and anti-vaxxers to threaten democracy and solidarity in the society.
  • lots of even healthy and triple or quadruple vaccinated people with BA.5 are really, really sick and will be unable to work for several days, sometimes even two weeks or more? The effect on mitigating the lack of personal especially in health care facilities will be small, not to say nonexistent as soon as the increased spread lets to more ill health care personal – and threatens noncovid (routine and emergency) treatments even more.
  • the health care personal is already under pressure? Last week my gallbladder had to be removed, my surgery already had been shifted to another (private) hospital, and I was lucky not to get infected in hospital – despite bad masking discipline among health care personal AND bad air with exceptionally high CO2 values (exceeding 2000ppm during the night in a two bed room, normal station). Getting infection before or after an operation could be really bad if the infection worsens the condition. A recent covid infection could also cause pulmonary embolies during general anesthesia.
  • “there is no data to support 5 days or anything shorter than ten days of isolation” (David Adam in Nature)

Another claim is that 50% of covid patients in hospitals would have a secondary covid diagnosis (“Nebenbefund”), which is used as another indication for decreased severity of BA.5 and less strain on hospitals due to covid. This is wrong, too.

  • the famous accident victim lies in the casualty ward, not at the covid station. Someone with a cholecystitis and incidental covid lies in the surgical ward
  • covid is a systemic disease which is able to trigger heart failure, secondary bacterial infections, etc. Even if the primary diagnosis is different, these patients with incidental covid HAVE covid and suffer from direct consequences of covid
  • people with diabetes, testing positive, can rapidly show worsening conditions
  • elderly people with mild disease but sick alone at home
  • people with cancer coming to the hospital for chemotherapy or surgery, testing positive there. It may be they could stay there without symptoms but it could also be they die within a week due to their suppressed immune system
  • covid patients need to be isolated, regardless of covid being a primary or incidental diagnosis. Covid patients threaten the therapy/treatment of noncovid patients and health care personal.

More in this washington post article or see for yourself what a clinical immunologist in Denmark writes about it.

Sorry the text was somewhat messed up but I’m still in shock how far our government actually went to carry out their malfeasant great barrington “strategy” to “protect the vulnerable and declare the pandemic finished for healthy people”. There is a german written summary by Alexander Batthyány, head of Viktor Frankl Institute in Vienna, about the turning point in history to a very dark era ahead of us – an era we thought we had already forgotten.

Key message is – long covid doesn’t even exist for the government. They still refer to the misleading variant paper written by “experts” who conventiently “forgot” to mention which scenario is most likely at the moment. The government decided on flawed data and false arguments we’re in the best case scenario – OMICRON will prevail and subvariants shouldn’t bother us because OMICRON is mild and the health care system wouldn’t be overwhelmed by it. Reality check proved otherwise, even months before in the BA.2 wave which has been completely neglected by the government. Who cares? The government repeatedly lied to us. The health minister said if number of infections were rising for several days, they would reintroduce masking. Instead he shifted to the goal posts – talking about the focus on health care personal he wants to support by getting rid of mandatory isolation.

Gaslighting for reasonable people will continue now. Anti-democratic forces in the country will feel confirmed in their militant protests. Vulnerable people will be at high risk. Everyone being well informed about longcovid, like me, must hope the masks sit tight and have to isolated themselves from society.

We’re in deep shit now.

This will be my last blog entry for now. Austria is a failed state with dumb people and message controlled media – and I don’t know for which reason I should continue here.

I’ve done everything I can – the fate of this country now lies in legal measures against inhuman politicial decisions.

One thought on “Day 868 – Austria removes mandatory isolation

  1. Hab diesen Blog sehr geschätzt, werstehe aber, dass einem der eskalierende Irrsinn der Regierung irgendwann einfach zu viel wird. Danke trotzdem für die vielen gut recherchierten und aufbereiteten Informationen der letzten Jahre.

    Liked by 1 person

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