BA.5 dominant Corona variant in Germany

Mon 27th Jun, 2022

In the corona pandemic in Germany, the Omicron subline BA.5 is now predominant. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) speaks in its weekly report on Covid-19 on Thursday evening of a share of about 50 percent. However, these data refer to the previous week. Currently, higher values are to be assumed.

The RKI also noted a further 23 percent increase in seven-day incidence and a slight increase in the burden on the health care system. This particularly affects intensive care, it said. Those most affected by the infections are in the 70- to 79-year-old age group, at 32 percent. The report added: "The number of outbreaks in nursing homes and medical treatment facilities continued to increase compared to the previous week."

According to the Divi Intensive Care Registry, the number of Corona-infected patients treated there has been rising again for several days: after just over 600 patients at the beginning of the month, there were 810 as of Thursday. However, the number of newly hospitalized patients with severe infections remains at a low level, it said. Those fully vaccinated continue to have a very low risk of severe Covid 19 disease.

Variant BA.5 had accounted for 32 percent the further week before, according to the RKI report. "The proportions of the BA.2.12.1 and BA.4 subline each increased to six percent," the experts write. With incidences rising again due to the greater prevalence of BA.4 and BA.5, the RKI continues to call for compliance with recommendations to avoid infection. Not every positive sample is tested for the sublines, but only a random sample.

Virologist Christian Drosten expects a very high number of new Corona cases after the summer vacations in Germany. "I hope that the school vacations will somewhat dampen the increase in cases. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers," the head of the virology department at Berlin's Charité hospital told the news magazine Der Spiegel in an interview published Thursday evening. If nothing is done, he said, there will be "a lot of sick leave" in the workforce. "We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in the number of cases again," Drosten warned. "The BA.5 variant is just very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time."

In other countries, he said, one sees that when case numbers are very high, hospitalization and death rates also rise again. "Unfortunately, that will be the case here, too. But overall, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than they did in 2021." He doesn't think that by the end of the year people will be under the impression that the pandemic is over, the Corona expert said.

In January, Drosten had still expressed hope that Germany would be able to declare the pandemic state over in the course of the year. The virologist recommended avoiding infection if possible - in part because of the risk of long Covid. "Unfortunately, however, infection is inevitable in the long term. And gradually, mucosal protection actually forms, which I assume makes population immunity more resilient overall." On the other hand, the virus also continues to evolve, he said. "I expect a new equilibrium will settle in there at some point: Population immunity from vaccination and infection will eventually be so strong that the virus will become less important. Then we'll be in an endemic state." In the worst case, however, this could "take several more winters." A disease is considered endemic if it occurs permanently in a region with a relatively constant number of cases.

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