On the one hand, there are smoother gradients due to Omikron. On the other hand, there are many other corona cases that could let this effect run out of steam. This dichotomy currently makes communication about Corona difficult, explains virologist Christian Drosten.
At some point, you have to let the virus run. But when?, asked the Berlin Charité scientist at a joint press conference with Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and Professor Lothar Wieler. The boss of RKI sees Germany in a “new phase of the pandemic”.
Drosten thinks it’s still too early for the Omikron variant to infect the population with corona. According to new studies, the viral variant is significantly milder in its evolution. But due to too many cases overall, this advantage is “annihilated again”.
Because there are still far too many unvaccinated people in Germany. Especially in the at-risk group over 60, the vaccination gap is too large to allow the virus to circulate freely in the population without danger.
Additionally, many have yet to receive a booster shot, further increasing the number of people at risk. Because without a booster, vaccination offers some protection against serious diseases. Omikron can partially bypass existing immunities.
At some point, you have to let the virus run, the virologist said, so it can trigger infections. But: “Can we already do that in Germany? We’re a bit blind here.”
Drosten sees an improvement in the situation from Easter and for the summer.
“New phase of the pandemic”
Due to the current increase in corona numbers, the director of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, sees Germany in a new phase of the pandemic. The Omikron variant now dominates and has largely ousted Delta.
Wieler pointed out that there are currently around 800,000 active corona cases in Germany: “That’s one percent of the population. Every hundredth person in Germany.
Nevertheless, the pure number of cases will be lower in the future than it has been so far. Attention will shift more to the situation in clinics and in the health system.
In addition, as the number of cases increases, the exact data situation is increasingly difficult to record, and the number of unreported infections also increases. Contact tracing by health authorities “almost doesn’t happen anymore, to be honest,” Wieler said.
No new restrictions, but…
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach currently does not consider further measures to combat the coronavirus to be necessary. In his opinion, those that exist work and slow the increase in cases of infection with the Omikron variant.
Germany does not have the short time for doubling contagions like other countries, such as Britain, the SPD politician said. Only three to four days passed there before omicron infections doubled. In Germany, on the other hand, a period of just under a week is observed. This would show that the measures are working, according to Lauterbach. Nevertheless, he warned that the contact restrictions and rules that had been decided must be implemented everywhere.
The Minister of Health also announced a prioritization of PCR tests for staff in medical establishments in order to be able to end a quarantine more quickly under certain conditions.