NewsIs the new Corona variant BJ.1 dangerous? Streeck gives...

Is the new Corona variant BJ.1 dangerous? Streeck gives an assessment – and comments on the Oktoberfest

Created: 09/15/2022, 09:09 am

Hendrik Streeck sieht die Gefahr eines Superspreading-Events beim Oktoberfest.
Hendrik Streeck sees the danger of a superspreading event at the Oktoberfest. © Photo montage: Volker Preusser, Christoph Hardt via www.imago-images.de

A new corona variant is rampant again: BJ.1. The virologist Hendrik Streeck explains what we should be prepared for now.

Munich – The corona pandemic has been with us for almost three years. The coronavirus has mutated many times since then. In Germany, the BA.5 variant from Omikron is dominating at the moment. There are even several submutations of the Omicron BA.2 variant. Just recently another one was discovered: BJ.1. So far, however, only around 70 infections are known worldwide, most of them in India.

Corona: New Omicron variant BJ.1 also discovered in Austria

However, the virus variant BJ.1 was also discovered in Austria. The new variant could now be dangerous. The special thing is that “it has a record number of mutations,” explains Ulrich Elling, molecular biologist at the Institute for Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, to the standard . It has 13 mutations in addition to BA.2’s 31 mutations on the spike protein. No omicron subvariant has ever had so many mutations. For comparison, BA.5 has five add-on mutations in addition to the BA.2 pack, and Delta has eight.

What if BJ.1 prevails? Virologist Streeck: “Not everything that we have achieved is gone”

In an interview with n-tv , the Bonn virologist Hendrik Streeck explained: “First of all, you have to realize that such mutations happen all the time. Therefore, we cannot yet say whether the BJ.1 variant will prevail. Another favorite is the BA.2.75.2 variant, for example.” These are variants in which there are more mutations on the surface of the virus. So, “where the antibodies bind, where the immune system attacks.” As a result, the immune system can no longer recognize the virus quite as well.

“But that’s not complete immune escape, you still have partial immunity even if you’ve been vaccinated against the original virus. What to say: You have to watch it. But there is no reason now to think that everything we have achieved in the last two and a half years will be lost if this variant prevails.”

Oktoberfest and Corona: Streeck sees a possible “superspreading event” – important findings for the winter

Streeck was also asked about the upcoming Oktoberfest how worried he was about a superspreader event. After all, people from all over the world would be expected again. “I hope the colleagues in Munich will monitor this very closely. Because it is indeed the case that millions of people come together at the Oktoberfest and it can easily become a superspreading event.”

However, it is not yet possible to assess exactly what that means in the end. “But it will be interesting for us. Of course also with regard to autumn and winter, when we have public viewing for the World Cup, how we will deal with it in the future. But unfortunately you can only assess it when we are in the middle of the Oktoberfest. ”By the way, the virologist does not want to be vaccinated against Corona a fourth time. (md)

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