In Portugal, the numbers of corona rose again significantly. According to experts, the omicron subvariant BA.5 that is prevalent there should spread further in Germany. what is the situation?
BERLIN – With the Omicron sub-line BA.5, which has caused an increase in the number of coronavirus cases in Portugal, among others, the growth is becoming increasingly visible in Germany.
Their proportion in random samples has recently doubled each week – but so far it is still at a very low level, as evidenced by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) weekly Covid 19 report.
Evolution in detail: While BA.5 made up 0.6 percent of positive samples tested for the variants at the end of April, it was 1.2 and 2.5 percent in the following weeks. The latest available value for the week before last is already 5.2 percent. If the trend continues, a higher percentage can currently be assumed.
Additionally, according to the report, the steady decline in seven-day incidence nationwide appears to have stalled. Experts wrote that in the week ending May 29, the main figure fell by 37 percent compared to the previous week. However, this week, the decline in infection has stagnated. RKI also advocates compliance with recommendations to avoid infection. In particular, it again appeals to high-risk groups and people over 70 years of age to protect themselves from serious illness with a second booster dose.
Above all, the rise in corona numbers in Portugal has recently attracted attention in Germany regarding BA.5. Despite the high vaccination rate of 87 percent, the number of hospitalized patients and deaths linked to Covid-19 has recently increased in the popular holiday destination. There are hardly any restrictions on Corona in the country of ten million people.
What is the location of Germany in comparison? In the case of virus variants, the omicron subline BA.2 is still present here in the majority, with clearly more than 90 percent. Previously, many people were infected with BA.1 in the omicron wave. The RKI continues to report a decline in hospital numbers.
Basically BA.4 and BA.5 have been known from a few weeks ago. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies both as part of Omikron as a cause of concern. The share of BA.4 is also increasing in Germany, but so far only slightly and within less than one percent.
“I think BA.4/BA.5 will prevail here as well,” virologist Sandra Ciesek of Frankfurt University Hospital recently wrote on Twitter about the sub-variants first described in South Africa. According to preliminary results, they will escape from the vaccinated people’s antibodies and recover through genetic changes. Preliminary data from subjects infected with BA.1 did not suggest reliable protection against infection with the other two subtypes. There is a particular risk of infection if the previous infection or vaccination has been long past.
Cesek wrote that there is no evidence to date that disease severity has changed significantly with the two subtypes. One must continue to monitor this. Regarding the adaptation of Corona vaccines to Omikron, which has been ongoing for some time, she stated: “Unfortunately, you also realize that we may be lagging again with a BA.1 adapted vaccine. We have to be better and faster here.” Vaccines available to date are still It targets the 2020 virus, characteristics that have since been altered by mutations also surprised experts.
If you want to stop the waves of BA.4 and BA.5, you have to vaccinate more – even those who have recovered, South African expert Tulio de Oliveira felt a few weeks ago. With so-called hybrid immunity – that is, a combination of infection and vaccination – superinfections occur much less frequently, according to experience there.