Immunologist Hořejší: Strict measures should have come sooner, now the Italian scenario is threatening

Contrary to his previous statements, the Minister of Health Roman Prymula (for YES) did not wait for the end of the following week with the announcement of stricter measures, but part of it is valid from Friday, the second from Monday. Do you believe that the measures work? And can 14 days be enough for the reproductive number to drop below one?

To tell you the truth, I see about fifty to fifty, whether it will be enough or it can no longer be slowed down and we will get into that critical situation. But I’m optimistic and I hope it works at least in part. These are really measures that should have been taken a long time ago, and we could have avoided where we are now.

However, Minister Prymula himself did not even rule out a lockdown. Don’t you think it’s appropriate? Do you think we can still avoid it?

The question is what the lockdown calls. It has more meanings. A lot of people say that what we had here in March was a lockdown, but that’s not entirely true. People normally went to work, except for services where it was forbidden, and in addition they had to go only to the most necessary shopping, to go nowhere else.

I don’t think there is any danger of repeating this, because in the meantime it has become clear what is really important. If people walk down the street, they are far apart and do not meet for a long time, then I don’t mind. The most important thing – gathering a large number of people in close proximity – is now being addressed by new measures. These are, for example, cultural events or family celebrations. And, of course, environments where the virus spreads well, such as gyms, swimming pools and changing rooms.

In the three weeks from today, there will be several times more serious cases than today.

Let us stay with the Minister. He said that the hospital beds were largely filled and that additional capacity was needed. Both hospitalized in the ICU and the deceased reflect the number of infected with a delay of several weeks with regard to the development of their infection. Now the numbers of infected are significantly higher. Are we not returning to the threat of the Italian scenario (sharp increase in infected and insufficient bed capacity)?

Unfortunately, it seems so. I think there is a real threat. God forbid they at least pulled the emergency brake now, but it should have happened much sooner. We have warned many that this could happen in the first half of September. It’s awful that it was neglected like that. I have repeatedly emphasized that some irresponsible pseudo-experts, media-famous doctors who have downplayed it, are to blame. And the government, unfortunately, took their word for it, which was very unwise.

So, if the curve of the infected people did not flatten significantly, do you think that the health system will last even during the winter?

This is really guessing from a crystal ball, but I hope that our healthcare system is robust enough to handle even an emergency. I have no doubt that in some places there are some emergency rooms being prepared, in which patients, for example, who are not seriously ill enough to move, in order to free up beds for the seriously ill, which will certainly come far more.

As you said, today’s situation reflects the situation weeks ago. Development to the severe stage takes at least three weeks from the time the disease first appears or people become infected. So when you look at how many cases there were three weeks ago, it was several times less. So, three weeks from today, there will be several times more severe cases than today.

But I believe that the hospital directors, and the people responsible in general, know this and take the appropriate organizational measures so that it does not lead to a complete disaster. But it cannot be ruled out. In New York, for example, it really collapsed and people died on the streets.

But aren’t there many more infected people in the system who have not been tested and will eventually need help in the hospital as well? How to work with this number?

Of course. It is quite clear that there are many more infections in the system than are tested. If at least half of the total population could be tested at once, several million. Which is practically impossible, but theoretically it would be possible if tests were available that are fast and cheap. So I think there would be at least five times as many positive cases as we know today.

If we turn it around now, Minister Prymula sees a “light at the end of the tunnel” in the arrival of the vaccine. Do you agree on this?

Of course. The only option is to solve it with the vaccine I already see on the horizon. I am convinced that at the end of the year we will also have the first hundreds or thousands of cases that will be able to receive the vaccine. By the way, it is already ordered. This will definitely be the case during the first quarter or half of next year. We have a few months left to endure it. And it amazes me a little that during the discussion about the vaccine, it is still emphasized that it will not be mandatory, but on the contrary only for those who want to.

It also endangers other people who do not fit into the hospital, and will thus pay extra for the fact that there are fools who do not want to get vaccinated.

So would you make it mandatory? It is often mentioned that this solution could collapse precisely because people will refuse vaccination. It should be noted that flu vaccination is also low in the Czech Republic.

If it were up to me, I would make it mandatory in at least some risk categories. In addition, it is a fact that we, who are members of the risk group, whether it is my age or those who have some other disease that creates the risk, have our own interest in it, so that we do not have to go through it.

On the other hand, it’s not just a matter of people. If, as a result of their irrational decision not to vaccinate, the situation of health congestion continues, it is a social issue. It also endangers other people who do not fit into the hospital, and will thus pay extra for the fact that there are fools who do not want to get vaccinated.

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