Unprecedented analysis carried out by the SP Covid-19 Infotracker platform, created by researchers from USP (University of São Paulo) and Unifesp (Federal University of São Paulo), shows that the capital of São Paulo recorded a 140% increase in positive Covid cases in two weeks. With progress, specialists are growing concerned that there will be an explosion in records of the disease after Carnival.
The weekly moving average went from 168 cases on January 21st to 404 on February 4th, the latest data available on the Municipal Health Department panel.
If previous periods are considered, the jump is even greater. In relation to December 24, 2023, the date on which 91 cases were registered, for example, the increase is 344%.
Laboratories and hospitals also recorded an increase in the rate of positive Covid tests. According to Abramed (Brazilian Association of Diagnostic Medicine), January of this year closed with a 26% confirmation rate, double the figure recorded in the same month of 2023 (13%). At Albert Einstein Hospital (SP), the increase in positive tests during this period was 43% (707 against 1,013).
According to Wallace Casaca, coordinator of the Infotracker platform, there has been a consistent increase in cases since the end of last year. Available data do not indicate an increase in hospitalizations or deaths.
“We expect a peak in Covid cases in the coming weeks. Much smaller, much less serious than we have seen in previous years, due to vaccination, but we will have a boom, without a doubt.”
Infectious disease specialist Rosana Richtmann, from the Emílio Ribas Institute (SP), has a similar assessment. “Now, post-Carnival, there will be an explosion of cases, fortunately not serious,” she says.
According to Renato Kfouri, infectious disease specialist and vice-president of Sbim (Brazilian Society of Immunizations), Carnival crowds always cause an increase in the number of cases when there is already a wave underway.
“If there is an increasing trend, with the increased circulation of the virus, the proximity between people increases transmission and should accelerate a little after Carnival.”
Although Covid will no longer be a health emergency since 2023, and, with the high rate of vaccination, patients with the disease have increasingly milder symptoms, similar to flu or sinusitis, the Ministry of Health says that the protocol to be followed remains the same.
According to the most recent note, measures such as isolation, use of masks and sanitary hygiene remain important, “especially for those people at greater risk of developing serious illness, and to reduce the chances of developing post-Covid conditions with each new infection “.
The latest InfoGripe Bulletin from Fiocruz (Fundação Oswaldo Cruz), released on Thursday (8), shows an increase in the number of new cases of Srag (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) associated with Covid-19 in several states in the North region, especially in Amazonas and in Tocantins, and in Mato Grosso (Center-West).
The analysis refers to epidemiological week 5, from January 28th to February 3rd, and is based on data entered into Sivep-Gripe (Influenza Epidemiological Surveillance Information System) until February 5th.
According to the analysis, although there is a sign of a possible slowdown in growth among the elderly in Pará, this does not occur among children and young adults, areas in which the increase continues.
According to Marcelo Gomes, researcher at Fiocruz and coordinator of InfoGripe, the recommendation for people in risk groups (of advanced age or who have some immunosuppression, for example) is not to skip Carnival.
“Stay at home, enjoy the parades on TV, listen to the radio, so you don’t run the risk of ending up exposing yourself and eventually developing a serious case.”
For Wallace Casaca, the main factor associated with the increase in cases is the circulation of new variants of the coronavirus.
According to the sequencing platform maintained by Fiocruz, the Ômicron subvariants that are leading to this rapid escalation are those of the JD group and the JN group.
“Based on the trend, JN.1 [descendente da variante Pirola, que é a BA.2.86), e subvariantes derivadas desse grupo têm ultrapassado as demais na corrida da transmissão”, afirma Casaca.
A cepa é também a que mais está em circulação nos Estados Unidos. Detectada pela primeira vez no país em setembro do ano passado, a JN.1 foi responsável por 44% dos casos de Covid em meados de dezembro, muito acima dos cerca de 7% registrados no final de novembro, segundo o CDC (Centros de Controle e Prevenção de Doenças), agência do governo americano.