The days are getting shorter. Is there now a serious pandemic winter coming? Experts are alarmed because of the slow vaccination campaign and corona mutants.
Frankfurt – After the first, second and third corona waves, the logical question arises: How dangerous will the fourth wave of the pandemic be? How will the situation be in winter? This needs to be clarified because the delta variant is significantly more contagious than the original coronavirus – and the pathogen continues to mutate.
51.6 million people in Germany have complete vaccination protection (as of September 11, 2021). That is 62.1 percent of the population. Around 55 million people have at least one vaccination. These numbers are far from the ideal situation that experts would like. The corona vaccination campaign had stalled months ago. Other European countries are doing better: In Spain and Portugal, almost 80 percent of the population are vaccinated.
Fourth corona wave: Jens Spahn is alarmed about the vaccination rate
Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn is alarmed. “Unfortunately, we’re making slow progress at the moment,” he wrote on Twitter. It is true that 72.4 percent of adults are now protected. “But too many are still unvaccinated to overcome the pandemic.” Later, the CDU politician added on the short message service: “Every fifth adult has not yet been vaccinated. Help us and convince those who are hesitant or waiting in the circle of friends. For a safe winter for all of us. “
Many would like to have this safe winter. But the rampant delta variant, which is now dominating in Germany, robs many experts of the optimism. B. 1.617, as the mutant is called in science, is up to 60 percent more contagious than the alpha variant of Sars-CoV-2. Infected people without a mouth and nose cover and other protective measures infect an average of six to seven other people. The result can be observed: The number of infections is increasing and there are more corona patients in the intensive care units again.
Fourth wave: Will the delta variant of the coronavirus be displaced?
The President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, warned on Wednesday (September 8th, 2021): “If we do not drastically increase the current vaccination rates, then the current fourth wave can take a brilliant course in autumn.” The corona pandemic is not over yet. The higher the vaccination rate in the population, the less bad the wave is. “It is in our own hands to prevent many serious courses and deaths,” emphasized the RKI boss.
It can be assumed that the corona numbers will continue to rise in the colder days. But it is difficult to predict with what force a fourth wave will ultimately hit Germany. The question of whether Delta will be the most widespread variant in the future is also not easy to answer. “I don’t think we understand Sars-CoV-2 well enough to be able to give a reliable answer to the question of how the virus could develop,” said epidemiologist Emma Hodcroft from the University of Bern to the news magazine Spiegel.
Corona: Lauterbach warns of “significantly more dangerous variants than Delta”
The SPD health politician Karl Lauterbach, on the other hand, urges caution. “I think it is very likely that we will get significantly more dangerous variants than Delta because of the large number of unvaccinated people around the world,” said the member of the Bundestag, who became known nationwide in the wake of the corona pandemic, to the Spiegel.
It could also be that mutants develop that are largely resistant to the current corona vaccines, warned Lauterbach. “For example when the spike protein of the coronavirus develops a cloak of magic like some cancer cells.”
The virus variant Mu, which is rampant in South America, may be one of the corona mutants against which the current vaccines are hardly effective. According to the World Health Authority (WHO), there are indications that the antibodies in convalescent or vaccinated persons are even less effective against Mu than against other virus variants. Further studies are necessary for a better understanding.
Corona variant Mu according to EMA “potentially worrying”
The Corona variant Mu was first discovered in Colombia. As Marcela Mercado from the state health authority said, Mu is now the predominant virus strain and is responsible for the majority of Covid-19 deaths. The WHO classifies them as a “variant of interest”, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as “potentially worrying”. “I have to say, however, that we do not yet have any data showing whether the mu variant is spreading rapidly and whether it has a chance of overtaking the delta variant as the predominant virus strain,” said the EMA head of vaccine strategy, Marco Cavaleri, on Thursday (09.09.2021).
It is important for Lauterbach to keep a careful eye on the development of the corona pandemic. There is still no effective therapy for Covid patients. And there are also serious illnesses in people who have been completely vaccinated, since no vaccine is 100 percent effective. “This virus will keep us busy for years,” he told Spiegel. (tvd)
Heading image: © Bodo Marks / dpa