RKI detects new coronavirus variants in Germany

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Fri 22nd Apr, 2022

Several of the fairly new omicron sublines and mixed variants have so far been found relatively rarely or not at all in Germany, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).As of April 18, a total of 25 samples of line BA.5 had been detected, according to the RKI weekly report released Thursday evening. The proportion in a random sample was 0.2 percent the week before last. More current values are not yet available.BA.4 has not been detected so far. In Germany, however, the genetic material is decoded in only a small proportion of positive samples.

The predominant subtype in Germany is currently BA.2, in the sample the RKI gives the proportion for the week before last with over 95 percent. It was followed - even more transferable - by BA.1.BA.4 and BA.5 have only recently come to light and are considered of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) as part of Omicron.

According to WHO, detections came from South Africa and some European countries. Both sublines had partly different characteristics from other omicron variants, it said - but details are still emerging.In addition, the RKI reported evidence of several mixed variants (so-called recombinants) being observed. They can arise when a host cell is simultaneously infected with two different pathogens.

The RKI notes the following detections: one each of XD (spike protein of Omicron, rest Delta) and of XE as well as three of XG. The latter two are mixtures of BA.1 and BA.2."The most frequently (90 times) detected XM line is a recombinant of the omicron sublines BA.1.1 and BA.2," the RKI writes. It was first identified in mid-February and has since been detected in several European countries, including Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Detection has also occurred in part through targeted searches for certain characteristic mutations, it said. The RKI also points out that the classification may still be prone to error at present.So far, there is no epidemiological evidence of altered transmissibility, disease severity, and/or immune response in the recombinants compared with the parent variants. It said that XE may be slightly more transmissible than BA.2.

Overall, the RKI report speaks of declining trends in several Corona indicators in Germany. Accordingly, the nationwide seven-day incidence has fallen by almost a quarter in a weekly comparison. Among other things, key figures on hospital admissions and outbreaks in facilities are also decreasing.

Nevertheless, the RKI still sees a high infection pressure in the population. Last calendar week, more than 750,000 Covid 19 cases were reported.The report also shows that more than 200 laboratories nationwide have recently performed fewer and fewer PCR tests, on which the official statistics are based: After the number in March had been in part very clearly more than two million per week, in the week before Easter it was only about 1.1 million.

The significant decline is also partly due to the holiday Good Friday, writes the RKI. According to the report, more than every second test (about 55 percent) turned out positive, which is about as much as in March. Primarily people with symptoms are tested.Experts have assumed for some time that there are many unrecorded cases - because of overburdened health offices and because positive rapid tests are not always followed by a laboratory test.

On Thursday, Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach confirmed that there are currently probably about twice as many cases as are officially reported. Also the Federal association of the physicians of the public health service mentioned this order of magnitude.

In the report, the RKI emphasizes once again that it is neither possible nor necessary to record every individual case in the reporting system. The overall development can also be reliably estimated thanks to other data taken into account.On Friday morning, the RKI announced a slight increase in the nationwide seven-day incidence. According to the report, the value of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants per week was 733.4, compared with 720.6 the previous day. A week ago, the nationwide incidence was 1001.5 (previous month: 1733.4).

Here, too, the RKI pointed out that the index values, which had fallen sharply in recent days, should be viewed in relative terms. Thus, because of the Easter vacations and vacations, fewer tests had been performed and fewer cases of infection had been recorded and transmitted than at other times. This means that "in the short term, there may be an increased under-reporting of cases in the reporting system."

Health departments in Germany reported 161,718 new Corona infections to the RKI within one day. A week ago, there were 156,864 registered infections. Across Germany, 289 additional corona virus-related deaths were recorded within 24 hours, according to the new data. A week ago, there were 212 deaths.

The RKI counted 24,006,254 confirmed infections with Sars-CoV-2 since the start of the pandemic. The number of people who died from or with the involvement of a confirmed infection with Sars-CoV-2 rose to 133,921. The RKI gave the number of those who recovered on Friday at 21,058,000.

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