In the last two Corona years, the incidence of infection in the warm season has eased. However, that does not have to be the case this summer, warns the RKI.

With a view to the rising number of corona cases and the spread of omicron subtypes, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) warns of increasing infection pressure in summer.

According to the RKI dashboard, the nationwide seven-day incidence on Friday was 318.7 (previous day: 276.9; previous week: 261.3). The health authorities in Germany recently reported 77,878 new corona infections (previous week: 42,693) and 106 deaths (previous week: 91) to the RKI within one day.

The incidence does not provide a complete picture of the infection situation and comparisons of the data are only possible to a limited extent due to the test behavior, late reports or transmission problems. Nevertheless, the institute warned in its weekly report on Thursday evening that the infection rate could pick up again soon.

Greater distribution of the subvariants

It is therefore expected that the omicron subvariants named BA.4 and BA.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,” wrote the RKI -Experts in the weekly report on Covid-19. 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.

“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. This continued the doubling of BA.5’s share 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.

No increasing disease severity

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.

In the weekly report, the RKI also recorded the rising trend in the seven-day incidence. Last week, this rose again compared to the previous week for the first time since mid-March (29 percent). The institute spoke of an increase in the number of infections transmitted in the past week by around 50,000 cases compared to the previous week. Experts have been assuming for some time that there will be a large number of cases that are not recorded by the RKI.

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.

Preparation for the Corona autumn

Meanwhile, the teachers’ association warned against negligence when preparing for the Corona autumn. Politicians must act now so that one can react effectively to all possible scenarios in the schools, said association head Heinz-Peter Meidinger of the “Rheinische Post”. A sharp increase in infections in schools means an individual health hazard for students and teachers and again the risk of high staff shortages up to lesson cuts and partial closures.

The head of the Education and Science Union (GEW), Maike Finnern, told the editorial network Germany (RND/Friday): “So that there is no hasty action again in the fall, the preparations must now be made and the legal basis created.”