- This summer was the most infected compared to the previous ones, says the mathematician
- We have 4 times more deaths from the virus per capita than the US
- Neurological damage in the brain is worrying – there could be a spike in dementia cases in 20-30 years.
- The reproductive number remains at 0.9 – that is, 10 people infect 9, and the trend is upward. After September 6, there may be a new wave
- Low mortality in an epidemic is only an end result. The good actions along the way should be implemented
– What kind of August are we sending, Dr. Tomov – both in terms of the month and compared to the past two summers marked by COVID?
– This summer was the largest spread of the virus so far and with the most infected compared to the previous ones. Although the official lethality (death) from this wave appears to be lower, if we look at the time-lagged NSI data for week-by-week mortality, we see that we are doubling that of last summer. Which makes sense – the omicron is still not harmless, and while it’s milder than the delta variant, it causes an excess of lethality.
But so far fewer deaths are being reported because people are not being tested enough. As a result, deaths are not detected in time.
Accordingly, instead of catching half of them, we catch a quarter. The rest is included in the NSI data as increased mortality. The number of people dying is on par with last year, which is a problem. The NSI numbers show that the death rate as a dynamic corresponds to that of 2021, which is worrying.
Then we had 147,000 deaths, a 100-year record, and 40,000 more than they should have. After a year like this, there should be a lower death rate because the reservoir of people who could die is somewhat depleted. And now we’re moving along the curve we were moving along last year.
– According to Prof. Radka Argirova, we can now safely say that we are managing the pandemic. Does this claim make sense?
– Absolutely none. We published articles in a prestigious journal showing how last fall’s delta wave was unmanageable and exceeded hospital capacity many times over. And all measures after the delta wave are even more delayed, if there are any. In the previous omicron wave there were zero measures. Now only the masks were introduced, which somewhat broke the wave – it started in Sofia, the Black Sea and the resort towns, and spread inside the country.
How are epidemics managed successfully? Softer ways, such as in Japan and South Korea, include people knowingly and voluntarily wearing masks, including outdoors, good immunization coverage, a good information campaign, and good epidemiological studies to show where and how the virus is spreading.
Good governance would be when we start fixing the air quality in all indoor spaces – hospitals, schools, kindergartens. Including introducing tax breaks for companies that do.
A low death rate in an epidemic does not mean that it is well managed. These are final results only. Good governance is to implement good actions along the way. Mortality depends on the pathogen, age, and the number of people who have died in previous waves. As we know, Bulgaria is in first place in the world in terms of excess mortality per 100,000 people for the last 2 years.
We have 4 times more COVID deaths per capita than the US. Which is why we don’t have the death rate they have now.
– And when do you expect the next COVID wave to be?
– If we have not exhausted the potential for infecting the infected during this wave, after September 6 the trend will reverse.
Currently, the reproductive number is stuck at 0.9 (10 people infect 9) with an upward trend. And how big the wave will be depends on how many people are susceptible to reinfection. And every single reinfection is a problem, because this virus is not like the others and leaves much more damage.
– Are there any data on how many died from re-infection?
– It is very difficult to make an accurate assessment because we do not have that much data. But roughly 3/4 of this year’s infections are re-infections. That is, very roughly speaking, 3/4 of the mortality this year may be from reinfections. The low death rate with omicron in our country is not because the variant is lighter, but because it has reached a population that has suffered several large waves. When there was a similar wave in Hong Kong, the death rate was very high because the population had not been sick before. Accumulated immunity and deaths from previous waves have resulted in a lower death rate now.
– And what about revaccinations? In January of this year, the European Medicines Agency warned that frequent booster doses could adversely affect the immune system. Still, the cooler months are coming. What would you recommend – to wait for a universal vaccine for the various variants to appear or to get boosters now?
– I would recommend doing an analysis of the risks and benefits of vaccination first. I am on 4 doses, with more than 6 months between the third and fourth. The risks of frequent vaccination are significantly lower than the virus itself. Something that is not widely known and not explained enough publicly is that in some people the virus causes serious problems with the immune system and makes them more vulnerable to further infections from this and other viruses. The reason for frequent vaccinations is that it is mainly the antibodies that protect against COVID, as the T-cells are damaged by the infections.
The multisystem inflammatory symptom in children is precisely because of such vulnerable immune systems. When the virus hits T-cells, it suppresses them and weakens the immune system’s ability to respond properly, causing it to overreact. And T-cells are the ones that kill the infected cells. COVID suppresses T-cells in a very similar way to the HIV virus. And because of that, after a relapse, some people are more vulnerable to other infections than before. The risk of a heart attack after COVID is several times higher in the first two years. Most people after contracting the virus go to a cardiologist because they most often have heart problems. That is why vaccinations should be planned and thought about.
In principle, distrust towards vaccines in Bulgaria has been around for a long time – in our country, for example, the HPV vaccine (against human papillomavirus – b.r.) is not mandatory, but in Germany it is highly recommended and successfully enforced. And this is one of the best vaccines. And it saves many cases of throat and uterine cancer. And it’s lifelong. It is also optional for chicken pox. Many vaccines are not on the mandatory list at all. There is a very large anti-vaccine movement among GPs and let’s face it – poor education and easy passing of exams is a serious problem. In some groups, we had many cases of hepatitis A, and in 2010 there was an epidemic of measles. We have had these problems for a long time. That’s why COVID has caused such a big explosion – because we are vulnerable as a population, as an education, and as professionals.
– In the future, big or small explosions await us in terms of COVID?
– We cannot say about the future, because it is not known whether another option will not appear. But we can say that Bulgaria is a unique country in the world in terms of the number of deaths per capita. Therefore, the reservoir of these options for more mortality is not very large. But the problem is that we only think about mortality, and the most serious problems of COVID are related to the organ damage it leaves – especially those related to the brain and heart. Not only I, but also the entire cardiology society expects a massive increase in heart attacks in the coming years. Of particular concern are neurological damage in the brain, such as in children, which can lead to a huge spike in dementia cases 20-30 years from now. And every loss of IQ by one point lowers the potential for economic growth and development. In Bulgaria, the average IQ is low – 93-94 points, because education is weak and this leads to poorer health of the population – people make wrong choices for their health and resort to alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, do not do sports. It is extremely dangerous to allow such a spread in schools and universities, because for children it means a long-term limitation of their achievements. And this will affect the economic growth of the country, etc. There are even already studies on how many billions are being lost to COVID. Much of the inflation – about 30-40% – is due to the disruption of supply chains due to COVID. A big problem that men don’t understand is the effect on sperm quality. Multiple reinfections will have a long-term negative impact on the birth rate in Bulgaria, and we need it.
– Despite its strong start, it seems that recently the monkeypox remained in the background or at least stopped being commented on as much.
– These are political reasons. Unfortunately, since CDC Director (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States – b.r.) became Rochelle Valensky, strange, unscientific things happen. Previous outbreaks in the Congo and elsewhere have shown intra-household, close-contact, and airborne spread. Now it is claimed that it is all about homosexual men. The truth is that there is an asymptomatic spread, if we judge by the waste water – they are tested in different cities and thus the concentration of the virus is tested. It can be seen 1-2 weeks before the cases are picked up, how the concentration is also picked up. And more spread is seen than caught. Because CDC rules only test gay men exclusively and yet there are already women and children with this thing.
When there is an asymptotic distribution and only one group is tested, then the picture is distorted. Previous outbreaks in the Congo and the Central African Republic have involved populations that are immunologically naïve to monkeypox, which is related to smallpox. And Western countries are extremely vaccinated against smallpox – until 1979, all of Western Europe and the USA were vaccinated. And a large part of this population is protected, which makes it more difficult to transmit. But it is confused that the mechanism of spread is only through close contact with the skin of the infected person. There are many studies on monkeypox aerosols that show they are capable of infecting for up to 90 hours. Therefore, measures must be taken, vaccines must be purchased and social distancing measures must be implemented, because everyone under 45 is susceptible to this disease. Precautionary measures must be taken because soon there will be three things to watch out for at the same time – COVID, monkeypox and possibly the flu.
He was born in 1982.
Worked 10 years in the software industry
Teacher at the National High School for Ancient Languages and Cultures “Saint Constantine-Cyril the Philosopher”
Lecturer in the “Informatics” department at the New Bulgarian University
His interests are in management theory, probability theory, applied statistics, philosophy of science, history of mathematics
He worked for two years at the Center for Analysis and Risk Management with Ivan Kostov on projects related to energy and econometrics
Participates in a team investigating the effects of the COVID pandemic on public health
Author of a series of articles related to political conservatism and risk management
Winner of a number of awards, including first place at the BAIT awards for 2021.