NewsOmicron variant: Expert gives little hope - "Booster vaccination...

Omicron variant: Expert gives little hope – "Booster vaccination is not enough"

The Omikron variant has arrived in Europe. A fifth corona wave seems inevitable. Booster vaccinations alone are no longer enough, say experts.

Frankfurt – In the summer of 2021, the nationwide incidence value was still below one. A value that is unimaginable a few months later. “We will have to learn to live with this virus,” emphasized the former Health Minister Jens Spahn * (CDU *) at the beginning of the year and after the rapid increase in the number of corona cases *. Since mid-October, it seems he’s been proved right.

The pandemic * is hitting harder than ever. In addition to the tens of thousands of new infections of the Delta variant * every day, a new mutation has now found its way to Europe and is giving Corona experts a huge headache in this country. We are talking about the highly contagious Omicron variant *. There could hardly have been a more unfavorable time for the arrival of the new corona mutation for Germany. While people in the Federal Republic are currently trying to get the infection process under control with booster vaccinations, a virus variant straddles in between, which is spreading extremely quickly and is also contagious for those who have been vaccinated. Omikron is still unexplored and studies on the effectiveness of known corona vaccines * are still ongoing. But experts are already certain: Vaccinations alone will not be enough to get the Omikron variant under control.

Omicron variant: 30 million corona infections in spring – booster vaccination will not be enough

Due to the delta mutation alone, around 4900 patients are currently being treated in intensive care units in Germany. The RKI describes the current situation as “very worrying”. The new health minister of the Ampel-Coalition, Karl Lauterbach * (SPD), said in a conversation about the topics of the day that no measures are being ruled out with regard to the spreading Omikron variants. In Germany there are so far only 82 reported cases of the South African variant, in the EU there are 766 – and the trend is rising.

The previous experiences from South Africa with Omikron are not good news. A look at the European hotspots shows how dangerous the new variant can be for Europe. In the UK and Denmark, infections have doubled every three to four days. That is much faster than initially assumed. “If developments continue like this, Omikron will be predominant in Europe in around two to four weeks,” says Richard Neher, who studies the evolution of viruses at the University of Basel.

Eine Hand mit grünem Schutzhandschuh hält ein Blutentnahmeröhrchen mit der Aufschrift COVID-19 Omicron variant, positive. (Symbolbild)

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According to a South African study, the double vaccination against the corona virus protects against the course of serious illnesses caused by Omikron. (Symbol image)

Omikron does not stop at vaccinated people either. The RKI is hoping for quick “emergency plans”, otherwise one would have to assume the worst-case scenario. The Frankfurt virologist Sandra Ciesek predicts around 30 million corona infected people in Germany in the period up to April, with 3000 to 5000 hospitalized daily. Even more new infections per day would definitely put the already strained health system in Germany to the acid test. “All the tools we have” are now needed, says Ciesek: “It is not enough to concentrate on the booster campaign.”

Omicron variant: how deadly is the mutation?

Omikron could trigger a fifth wave before the fourth wave even subsided. One can only hope that the new variant is less dangerous and that serious disease courses occur less frequently. Hospital reports from South Africa suggest that Omikron sufferers have milder courses. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said one could be “cautiously optimistic” about this observation.

Even if Omikron were less aggressive than the Delta variant, there would still be no reason to give the all-clear. If a large number of people were infected with it all at once, there is a high probability that many sick people would have to go to hospital at once, warned genetics expert Jeffrey Barrett on BBC radio.

Omikron: Booster vaccination is the new second vaccination

Even if vaccinations alone are not enough to prevent a new wave of Omikron, each inoculated dose continues to serve as individual protection. According to what is known to date, people who have been vaccinated are still protected from a severe course of Covid-19 after the second vaccination. In order to end the pandemic, however, the first two pikes are probably no longer enough.

Boosters alone will not prevent a fifth wave. The long-term goal, however, should continue to be the vaccination of the entire population in order to prevent severe courses and to relieve the hospitals. According to the estimates of numerous experts, the immune protection against Omikron after the booster vaccination is around 70 percent on average. Virologist Christian Drosten * explained in his podcast at NDR-Info: “Perhaps you can imagine it a bit like this at the moment: The boosted vaccination is the new double vaccination […]. So what Omikron does to immunodeficiency is perhaps the difference between two doses and three doses. “

The short-term goal, however, is clear: reduce the number of infections, no matter how. “Make sure you take every opportunity to stop the transmission,” urged WHO Emergency Director Mike Ryan. This requires stricter corona rules, masks, distance – and not just a booster vaccination.

Medicines are becoming more and more interesting in the fight against the coronavirus. A new anti-corona pill shows high effectiveness – also against Omikron. (aa / dpa)

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