Diseases – Drosten: the new omicron subline should become dominant – health

Berlin (dpa) – The coronavirus substrain XBB.1.5, which is increasingly being detected in the USA, should also become widespread in Germany from the point of view of virologist Christian Drosten. “Simply because the relative transmissibility of this virus is so much higher than other viruses currently circulating,” explained the Berlin Charité researcher in the “Coronavirus Update” podcast. The advantage is reminiscent of when the Delta and Omicron variants appeared. But that doesn’t mean a huge new wave threatens this winter, Drosten said.

The number of detected cases of XBB.1.5 in Germany was still relatively low at the end of 2022. “The XBB.1.5 variant, which is widespread in the United States of America, had a share of 1%”, writes the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in its weekly Covid 19 report on Thursday evening. “Your share in the previous weeks was less than 0.5%.” Like the other sub-lines, the sub-line is under observation. Preliminary data indicated a growth advantage over other sublines and previously in circulation. The information relates to data for the last week of the past year and is based on small absolute numbers.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the new subline has no mutations known to alter the severity of the disease. However, due to genetic characteristics and growth rate estimates, the potential for increased case numbers is seen worldwide. However, there are still many uncertainties – also because information on the growth advantage has so far only been based on US data.

Yesterday Corona specialist Drosten was heard again in the NDR news format for the first time in almost ten months and first pointed out a misunderstanding about his much noticed statement about the end of the pandemic in December. In the interview, he actually said something different from what was received by some of the audience. About the reading of some media and politicians, after which he declared the end of the pandemic, he said: “I think everyone who has heard me communicate until now knows that I am not really saying to such research things in public.”

He can only say what he expects: “What we will soon be saying in a few months: Looking back, this was the first endemic wave of this virus, and that means the pandemic is over.” You can’t announce something like that in advance.

The phrases from the “Tagesspiegel” interview had also led to political calls for further easing. The newspaper quoted him as saying, “We are experiencing the first endemic wave of Sars-Cov-2 this winter, and in my opinion, the pandemic is over.” He added: This means that after this winter there will be such a broad and resilient population immunity “that the virus will hardly be able to pass through in the summer”.

Drosten: No alarm

There is no concrete evidence of concerns about a new virus variant due to the high number of infections currently in China, Drosten said in the podcast. However, there is a certain fundamental risk that the virus will still find new solutions there. New possible variants could be found very quickly through testing in many countries of entry. So far, the pathogens found in China are “completely normal virus variants”, which are also part of the existing mix here.

In the first weekly Corona report of the new year, the RKI writes: “After the significant decrease and a slight increase in the meantime before the start of the year, there are now signs of a further decrease in the number of cases .”

© dpa-infocom, dpa:230113-99-201467/3

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