86% of adults in Belgium have already received first shot of coronavirus vaccine

The public health science institute Sciensano has released the latest figures on the coronavirus pandemic in Belgium. They show modest falls in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus and in the number of people with COVID-19 that are so ill that they require hospital treatment. However, the basic reproductive rate (R0) for coronavirus remains at just over 1. 

During the week from 21 to 27 September an average of 1,890 people in Belgium tested positive for coronavirus. This is down 8% on the previous week. Meanwhile, during the same period an average of 46,700 people were tested for coronavirus each day, a fall of 2% on the previous week. Of those tested 4.5% tested positive. The basic reproductive rate (R0) for coronavirus currently stands at 1.02. This means that every 100 people with the virus infect a further 102 others.

During the week from 21 to 27 September an average of 8.6 people with COVID-19 died in Belgium each day. This is 40% up on the previous week. Since the onset of the pandemic here in March 2020 more than 25,600 people with COVID-19 have died in Belgium.

During the week from 24 to 30 September an average of 54.3 people with COVID-19 were admitted to hospital each day. This is down 2% on the previous week. There are currently 713 patients with COVID-19 that are being treated in Belgian hospitals. Of these 212 are on ICUs.

Meanwhile, 86% of all adults in Belgium have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine. 

Should we be concerned that the basic reproductive rate is now above 1?

A basic reproductive rate (R0) greater than 1 means that the virus is gaining ground, but does this mean that we should be concerned? The Ghent University biostatistician Bart Mesuere says that we shouldn’t be. “The curve has been almost flat for some time now which means that the basic reproductive rate has be hovering around 1”.

“The R0 value is an estimate made by Sciensano based on a host of other data and involves a complex calculation. The estimate is based on hospital admissions. These are low in absolute figures. Consequently, every fluctuation can create an impression that is not at all representative”.

There is another reason too why the R0 value is not necessary truly representative.

"There are other elements that play a role in determining the figures. The impact of the reopening of the schools in September was relatively limited. Now a number of other rules are being scrapped. The weather is also set to change with the autumn and the winter. We will have to see what the impact of this will be. At the same time very many people have been immunised and some groups are going to be given a third shot. It is difficult to make predictions”, Bart Mesuere told VRT News. 

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