Corona: boost for the dreaded wave by further omicron underlines

Science Pandemic

Boost for the dreaded crown wave by further omcron underlines

Coronavirus - Munich

6 October 2022, Bavaria, Munich: On the door of a subway there is a sticker with the words Cover your mouth and nose. Photo: Sven Hoppe / dpa +++ dpa picture radio +++

Source: dpa / Sven Hoppe

Could there soon be a new corona variant of the virus that will reverse previous circumstances? Some of these variants have an altered genetic makeup that allows them to evade the antibodies of vaccinated and cured people better than previously prevalent variants.

S.They have cryptic names consisting of letters and numbers: BA.2.75.2 for example. OR BQ.1.1. Behind this are underscores of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. Such pathogens threaten to add further strength to the autumn wave, some researchers warn. Because some of these variants have such an altered genetic makeup that they can evade the antibodies of vaccinated and cured people better than previously prevalent variants. This could spread them faster. These fears are hardly reflected in previous data on variants of the virus discovered in Germany, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) weekly report on Thursday evening shows.

The most recent data contained therein on the detected variants refers to the week before the last: at that time, a random sample showed that the BA.5 omicron underline still determines what is going on. For weeks, their shares have been 95 to 97 percent. According to the RKI, it underlines BA.2.75 and its derivatives have been spreading more and more around the world since June. However, the share in the sample for Germany is still less than 1 per cent.

Review: The corona pandemic was driven by the omicron variant and its underlines from late 2021. It had followed Delta and Alpha. Although it has been a long time since such a completely new variant appeared that was classified as worrying: the virus continues to mutate. But different from the start. In an interview published by his university, virus evolution specialist Richard Neher of the Biozentrum of the University of Basel talks about a more gradual development dynamic, more interesting than the big leaps the virus had previously made.

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World CR Ulf Poschardt on 30 September 2016 Photo: Claudius Pflug / Berlin Photo author

British virologist Tom Peacock was recently quoted in an article in Nature stating that there is now an unprecedented variety of variants from different branches of the Omicron family tree. Surprising: Independently of each other, many of these omcron descendants developed the same mutations in the spike protein. This is where the virus enters human cells.

Cornelius Römer, one of Neher’s employees, tweeted a few days ago that BQ.1.1 would cause a wave in Europe and North America before the end of November. It was based on rapidly increasing sequences over a short period of time. It is also plausible to Neher that the wave will receive a further boost in a few weeks, either eventually through BQ.1.1 or a combination of several variants, as he announced when asked by dpa.

“Winter is coming and it looks really exhausting”

Vaccine researcher Charité Leif Sander formulated it similarly on Twitter: In addition to the BA.5 autumn wave, which is currently building up rapidly, you will likely soon be dealing with a variant that strongly evades the existing immune response: ” Winter is coming and it seems to get really tiring.

This so-called immune flight does not mean, however, that the course of the disease will inevitably become more difficult again and that a new pandemic is about to begin. Upon request, immunologist Christine Falk said the mutations in BQ.1.1 indicated perhaps more effective infection, but not a weakening of all lines of defense. Based on the spike protein alone, there is no evidence of a change in disease burden. Protection Against Serious Diseases: According to immunologists, it should generally withstand recommended vaccinations in people with healthy immune systems. Experts view the threat of staff shortages as problematic if large numbers of people are infected at the same time.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) pointed out that BQ.1.1 was one of the 300 sub-variants observed. No matter which variant comes: WHO swears, as always, that there are tools to deal with the virus. These just need to be applied: e.g. vaccinate more, mask where needed, keep distance, ventilate.

The number of people testing positive in Germany continues to grow significantly, as shown by the RKI weekly report with last week’s data. However, the development of the severe course of the disease is not easy to interpret: the RKI writes that there is an increase in the number of cases of severe respiratory infections that need to be treated in the hospital. However, the authors limit that “cases that arrive at the hospital due to another illness or require intensive care treatment and in which the diagnosis of Sars-CoV-2 is not at the center of the disease or of the disease are also listed here. treatment”.

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