How quickly corona variants can be replaced by mutants has already been shown several times. It should be a matter of weeks before new omicron subtypes become established.
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), a renewed increase in corona infections in Germany is possible as other omicron subtypes spread.
It is expected that the subvariants named BA.4 and B.5 will spread more, “so that there can be an overall increase in the number of infections and a renewed increase in infection pressure on vulnerable groups of people as early as summer,” warned the RKI in its weekly report on Covid-19 from Thursday. Seasonal effects – which actually slow down the virus a bit – could not compensate for the spread of these variants if rules of conduct are no longer observed.
Teachers’ association warns against negligence
The teachers’ association called on politicians to create and provide all the prerequisites and instruments for this in the summer so that schools can react quickly and effectively to all possible scenarios in the autumn. Association President Heinz-Peter Meidinger told the “Rheinische Post” that a sharp increase in infections means for schools, in addition to the individual health hazard for students and teachers, in particular the renewed risk of high staff shortages and the resulting lesson cuts and partial closures.
The head of the Education and Science Union (GEW), Maike Finnern, told the editorial network Germany: “So that there is no hasty action again in the fall, the preparations must now be made and the legal basis created.”
Hesse’s Prime Minister Boris Rhein (CDU) told the RND that “a solid legal basis from the federal government is needed on which the states can organize protection against infection.” The traffic light government had to deliver in good time.
Shares of BA.4 and BA.5 double
“The currently strongest growth is shown by the proportion of sublines BA.4 and BA.5,” wrote the RKI. The result: In just a few weeks, these pathogens could make up the majority of the evidence. According to the report, BA.5 was found in every tenth sample during investigations from the week before last – the doubling continued from week to week. The proportion of BA.4 is given as 2.1 percent, which is also roughly double the previous values. The information is based on a random sample, not all positive cases are examined for variants.
According to experts, so-called immune escape plays a role in the advantage that BA.5 has over the previous omicron sublines. This means that the viral genome has changed so that it evades antibodies from vaccinated and recovered people better.
The good news: Even if there are concerns about a possible increase in the severity of the disease, according to reports from Portugal, the RKI has not yet seen any evidence of this. The data so far did not indicate that infections with BA.4 or BA.5 caused more severe disease courses or proportionately more deaths than the sublines BA.1 and BA.2, the institute wrote. These had caused the past waves. BA.2 was recently found in almost every positive sample that was included in the investigation – the value has now dropped to 87.5 percent.
The nationwide seven-day incidence increased last week compared to the previous week for the first time since mid-March (29 percent), the RKI stated. It spoke of an increase in the number of infections transmitted in the past week by around 50,000 cases compared to the previous week. So far, however, there has been no talk of a trend reversal in the situation in hospitals: According to the RKI, the burden on the capacities of the healthcare system is continuing to decrease. Most of the data in the report relates to last week.
critical moment FDP
Teachers’ Association President Meidinger also criticized the course of the FDP in an interview with the “Rheinische Post”. “We have absolutely no understanding of the current position of the Federal Minister of Justice and parts of the FDP to postpone these necessary decisions until after the parliamentary summer break in late autumn.” In some federal states, the new school year begins at the beginning of August.
Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann only wants to decide on the rules for autumn after the planned scientific assessment of the corona protection measures. At the end of June, a panel of experts is to present an evaluation of the measures. “Between June 30th and the end of the summer break, we will discuss with the federal states what to do,” Buschmann said on Wednesday on ARD. The federal government also discussed this with the Prime Ministers’ Conference. “I don’t understand why some now think that this timetable is no longer worth anything.”
FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai told the “Spiegel” that this review is needed “because we cannot yet know scientifically which corona measures of the past were really effective and which missed the mark”. The Corona policy must be “based on facts and must not be based on feelings or assumptions”.