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wave | Virologist Christian Drosten warns against early infection

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 wave |  Virologist Christian Drosten warns against early infection

How is Germany fighting the omicron wave? Virologist Drosten and Minister of Health Lauterbach agree: The goal should not be for everyone to become infected with the virus. You take a different approach. The number of infections in Germany is currently setting records every day: the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported more than 92,000 cases on Friday, the seven-day incidence is 470. The driver of the pandemic: Omicron. In view of this, the virologist Christian Drosten has warned against an early contamination in Germany.

According to the current state of knowledge, the virus variant is milder, but because there are too many cases, this gain will be “wiped out again,” said the scientist from the Berlin Charité on Friday in Berlin. There are still far too many unvaccinated people in Germany, especially in the group of over 60-year-olds. In addition, many people have not yet received a booster vaccination, which, however, is the most effective means in the fight against omicron, according to Drosten.

“We’re flying a bit blind there”

The virologist spoke of several “difficult double messages” in the current discussion. It is considered certain that the virus itself will have to “update” the immunity of the population again and again and eventually “run”. “But we don’t know at the moment whether we can afford it in Germany given the lack of vaccinations,” warned Drosten. “We’re flying a bit blind there.” He assumes that the endemic situation will be largely reached by the end of the year. The virologist promised that the omicron variant would probably have to be readjusted during vaccination. “There will have to be an adapted vaccination, and we may then have to provide large parts of the population, maybe even everyone, with an update vaccination against Omicron from the second quarter.” Drosten reiterated his appeal to the unvaccinated to be immunized as a matter of urgency.

Also Lauterbach against infection

Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach also spoke out against an infection at this point in time. “I don’t assume that everyone here will be infected,” said the SPD politician at the press conference with virologist Drosten and RKI boss Lothar Wieler. The whole thing is not over with the omicron wave. “The number of victims that we would then have to mourn is uncertain. And certainly too high.” Lauterbach expects the number of corona infections to increase even more, but is counting on containment through further everyday restrictions and more vaccinations. The strategy is to slow and stretch the omicron wave and boost as many people as possible with booster shots during this time.

Special problem in Germany

The pandemic is now “in difficult waters” in Germany. More people would have to be treated with infections, hospitals would be more heavily burdened. At the same time, the restrictions that were already in place were having an effect – for example with a longer doubling time for the number of infections. In addition, there are now even stricter access rules for vaccinated and recovered people, with additional tests (2G plus) in the catering trade. Karl Lauterbach: The Minister of Health warns of a high omicron wall. (Source: Reuters)

The goal now is “to make a hill out of the otherwise expected steep wall of infection numbers or that the wall is not so high,” said Lauterbach. However, it is a special problem in Germany that there are many unvaccinated people in the particularly vulnerable group of older people.

“The number of cases is higher than ever”

“The omicron wave continues to pile up and with a dynamic that we have not yet seen in the pandemic,” said RKI boss Wieler. Omicron dominates the infection process. “The number of cases is higher than ever and they will continue to rise.” There are currently around 800,000 active cases. One in a hundred people in Germany is currently infected. The number of hospitalizations and deaths will increase again. We are entering a new phase of the pandemic. “The pure number of cases will be less decisive,” says Wieler. As the incidence increases, the underreporting increases. Despite the infection, Lauterbach sees no reason for additional tightening of everyday restrictions for the time being. From his point of view, “the right package of measures is in place at the moment,” said the Minister of Health. However, if the number of cases increases significantly and medical care is expected to be overloaded, other countermeasures must also be taken. “We’re not at that point.” However, controls and the comprehensive implementation of existing restrictions are necessary.

Quasi-dead vaccine comes in February

The minister explained that the capacities for PCR laboratory tests were approaching “full load”. There is currently no shortage. With a view to free tests from the quarantine, he has now arranged for health workers to have priority in the PCR test evaluation in the laboratories. RKI boss Wieler made it clear that in the case of a 100% omicron wave it is no longer so important to check the exact virus variant. The test use is generally changing continuously, experts know how to deal with it. If a capacity limit is reached, then you focus the effort. According to Lauterbach, the Novavax vaccine will be available in Germany on February 21. The company initially promised to deliver 1.75 million vaccine doses on Thursday, and a further 3.25 million had been purchased. “I can’t say when they will be delivered.” However, he hopes that this will still be the case in February, said the minister.



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