NewsOmicron variant: Hundreds of thousands of corona infections every...

Omicron variant: Hundreds of thousands of corona infections every day? Researchers warn

Experts assume that the booster vaccination with Biontech also protects against the omicron variant of the coronavirus. But other scientists warn.

  • The Corona variant * Omikron is spreading all over the world. It is considered to be significantly more infectious than other mutations of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus.
  • Booster vaccinations seem to significantly increase protection against Omikron *. This is shown by initial evaluations of vaccines.
  • The news situation on the Corona variant at a glance.

+++ 5 p.m.: Many experts expect that the Omikron variant will soon be the predominant mutation of the coronavirus in Germany. The timing is still being debated. Models from Great Britain now give cause for concern that this point in time could come very soon. British researchers have calculated that 400,000 to 700,000 new corona infections are possible every day. According to this, around 20 to 34 million people would be infected with Sars-CoV-2 between December 2021 and April 2022.

With reference to the studies, scientists from Germany also warn against such scenarios. “It would be a miracle if it didn’t work out similarly in Germany,” said Dirk Brockmann, a physicist at Berlin’s Humboldt University, to the Rheinische Post. It is therefore now important “to act with foresight, swiftly and wisely,” says the researcher. The Frankfurt virologist Sandra Ciesek also warned on Wednesday of the spread of the Omikron variant in Germany (see update from 12.45 p.m.). A booster vaccination helps to increase protection against the variant again, but that is not enough. The scientist therefore stated that she considered the abolition of compulsory tests for vaccinated people to be a fatal signal.

Corona variant Omikron is probably much more infectious than other variants

Christoph Neumann-Haefelin, an immunologist at the Freiburg University Clinic, also expressed concern to the Rheinische Post about the spread of omicrons. “Think now, but not too long,” he said. Politicians now have to make preparations to curb the spread of the corona variant.



An electromicroscopic image of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Omikron is considered to be significantly more infectious than the previously occurring variants of the coronavirus. Another major concern is that vaccination protection is significantly lower. The vaccine manufacturers Biontech / Pfizer and Moderna have already stated that the vaccines – if boosted – are effective. However, work on new vaccines should be carried out by spring or summer.

Omicron variant: Virologist Ciesek warns of false booster expectations

+++ 12.45 p.m.: In view of the Omikron variant of the coronavirus, the virologist Sandra Ciesek warns of excessive expectations of booster vaccinations. A booster vaccination is also not one hundred percent protection against infection, said the director of the Institute for Medical Virology at the Frankfurt University Hospital on Wednesday in a video link. She referred to cases of already boosted people who had infected themselves and other people. “At the moment I have the feeling that the message is: Let yourself be boosted and the world will be good again. That is not the case. ”Caution should be exercised, especially in contact with risk groups.

Experts assume that the protection of vaccinated persons against serious illness with Omikron is likely to be better than protection against infection. According to previous data, Omikron is still rare in Germany compared to the Delta variant. In view of the experience of other countries, however, a very rapid increase is also feared in this country over the next few weeks.

Virologin Sandra Ciesek


Virologist Sandra Ciesek from Frankfurt.

Corona variant Omikron: von der Leyen “concerned”

+++ 12.00 p.m.: The Omikron virus mutation will soon be predominant in Europe, said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “Science tells us that we have to expect that Omikron will be the new dominant variant in Europe by mid-January,” said von der Leyen on Wednesday (December 15, 2021) in front of the EU Parliament in Strasbourg. The new variant is “obviously even more contagious” than the previous ones.

Von der Leyen was “concerned” about the omicron mutation, which is spreading quickly. Despite the urgent situation, the EU has enough corona vaccine for all Europeans. And that for both the basic immunization and the booster vaccinations, assured the head of the commission. 62 million people in the EU have already received a booster vaccination. The first data on Omikron would show that the booster vaccination is the best protection against Omikron, said von der Leyen.

Omicron variant: hope for vaccine against corona variant increases

Update from Wednesday, December 15, 2021, 9.30 a.m.: The rapid spread of the Omikron variant of the virus continues. The Federal Institute for the Approval of Vaccines is now hoping for a vaccine against the corona mutant soon. The manufacturers of the mRNA vaccines Biontech and Moderna have indicated that they can implement a strain adjustment within six weeks, said Klaus Cichutek, President of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, of the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Wednesday (December 15, 2021).

Millions of cans could be produced within a few weeks. “Three to four months seem quite realistic for mRNA, possibly also for vector vaccines, whose original vaccine has already been approved.”

There will be no loss of time through a new approval process. According to Cichutek, the Committee for Human Medicines at the European Medicines Agency (EMA), in which the Paul Ehrlich Institute is represented, could make a decision within a few days. If the new vaccine only contains a slightly different genetic construct than the original one, which already has EU approval, only a small clinical trial is required. Non-clinical examinations could be omitted. The immune reaction is only tested on a small number of volunteer subjects.

Omicron variant: Corona vaccinations protect against severe disease

+++ 9:16 p.m.: According to a South African study, two vaccinations with the corona vaccine from Biontech / Pfizer offer good protection against the course of severe disease when infected with the Omikron variant. “Double dose of the Pfizer / Biontech vaccine shows 70 percent effectiveness in reducing the risk of hospitalization,” said the head of the private health insurance company Discovery, Ryan Noach, on Tuesday (12/14/2021).

The study, which Discovery carried out in conjunction with the South African Council for Medical Research (SAMRC), is based on samples from 78,000 PCR tests taken between November 15 and December 7 in South Africa. “The results are very encouraging,” said SAMRC director Glenda Gray. However, Discovery boss Noach warned that the health systems could soon be overloaded despite the very good vaccination protection. The Omikron variant is spreading rapidly in South Africa and other countries and the number of new infections is very high.

The manufacturers Biontech / Pfizer had recently announced that two doses of their vaccine are probably not enough to protect against infection with Omikron. According to initial study results, they only offer effective protection against the course of severe disease.

British expert suspects that Omikron will spread even faster

+++ 3.30 p.m.: A British expert sees signs that the Omikron variant of the corona virus could spread even faster than previously assumed. First of all, it was assumed that the number of infections with the corona variant would double within two to three days, said the chief medical advisor to the British Health Authority (UKHSA), Susan Hopkins, on Tuesday in London in front of a parliamentary committee. “At the moment, it seems that this growth rate is shorter than it is longer.” She is concerned about how many people become infected every day and expects very difficult weeks.

Corona-Variante Omikron


The Corona variant Omikron is considered more infectious compared to other mutations. (Symbol photo)

Richard Neher, head of the research group Evolution of Viruses and Bacteria at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, warned on Twitter that conclusions should not be reached too quickly if the number of Omikron cases in a country supposedly no longer increases as quickly as it did at first. In view of the very high number of cases, it is likely that test capacities would reach their limits and there would be delays in reporting cases, he wrote.

In an interview published by his university on Monday, Neher said that Omikron will soon have displaced other variants such as Delta across Europe. If development continues as before, Omikron will be dominant in Europe in about two to four weeks. The transmission rate is three times as high as with Delta. The reason for this is that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people become infected. Vaccinated persons were better protected against infection with the Delta variant than with Omikron.

Corona variant Omikron: Söder calls for a change in strategy

+++ 2.30 p.m.: Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder has called for a uniform strategy for Germany against the Omikron variant of the corona virus. “In addition to the current Delta management, we need a uniform national Omikron strategy,” said Söder on Tuesday in Munich after joint consultations between the state cabinets of Bavaria and Saxony. Söder also called for a new Prime Minister’s Conference to be held soon – this year, or at least “very early” in the new year.

The omicron variant of the coronavirus causes great uncertainty because of its rapid spread. According to Söder, there are currently 87 suspected cases and 39 confirmed infections in Bavaria. Söder justified the need for a uniform strategy, among other things, with a different approach by the federal states. The Bavarian Prime Minister said that people coming from South Africa were treated more strictly at the Munich airport than in Frankfurt am Main. This means that the flights from South Africa will decrease in Munich, but increase in Frankfurt.

Corona variant Omikron: New details on Biontech booster

+++ 1.30 p.m.: The third corona vaccination with the vaccine from Biontech / Pfizer should provide “significant protection” from the Omikron variant. This is suggested by the results of a new study from Sheba Medical Center and the Central Virology Laboratory of the Ministry of Health in Israel.

The protection is about four times less than against the delta variant, which is currently dominating in Germany – but significantly better than initially feared. Whether the effectiveness of the booster vaccination also decreases over time is unclear and is still being investigated, said Dr. Gili Regev-Yochay of the Jerusalem Post with. She is the director of the Epidemiological Infectious Diseases Department at Sheba Medical Center.

variant Share in calendar week 48 in Germany
delta 99.5 percent
alpha 0.1 percent
Omicron 0.1 percent
Source: RKI

Research by scientists at Oxford University in England examined the booster effect through laboratory tests with blood samples from people who had received vaccines from Astrazeneca or Biontech / Pfizer. However, according to the study, which was published on Monday, there is still no evidence that the lower antibody levels with Omikron could lead to a higher risk of serious illness or death. “This is important data, but it only shows part of the picture. They only look at neutralizing antibodies after the second dose, but they don’t tell us anything about cellular immunity, and it is tested, ”said vaccine scientist and one of the study’s authors, Matthew Snape

Corona variant Omikron: Expert warns of “tidal wave” in Germany

+++ 11.30 a.m.: Federal Health Minister Lauterbach had announced that he would discuss such a relaxation for people with booster vaccinations with the health ministers of the federal states on Tuesday. The ministers meet in the afternoon to abolish compulsory testing across the board, some federal states have already abolished it. Teichert sees the plans with concern: The Omikron variant is on the advance and it is still unclear how well the booster vaccinations worked against it. “As long as we do not have enough data to be able to say this with certainty, we should not take any hasty steps,” warned Teichert. “It would be wrong at this point in time to give up tried and tested instruments such as rapid tests.” The more widely the tests are carried out, the easier it is to detect infections and trace infection chains.

The German Foundation for Patient Protection warned the federal and state health ministers against repeating old mistakes with this step: “With the Omikron variant, a tidal wave is rolling towards Germany,” said board member Eugen Brysch to the Funke newspapers. “That is why the health ministers must not decide to relax.” Giving political gifts before Christmas would be punished in January. “The same mistake was made last year. That mustn’t be repeated now ”, warned Brysch. The President of the German District Association, on the other hand, stood behind Lauterbach’s project: “It is easy to understand why the test is no longer required for those who have been boosted,” said District President Reinhard Sager of the Funke newspapers. The protection is much more effective with the third vaccination.

Corona summit: Lower Saxony’s health minister sees “blazingly fast” Omikron spread

+++ 10.20 a.m.: According to the Lower Saxony Minister of Health, the Omikron variant of the corona virus will also spread quickly in Germany. “We are assuming […] that we will basically have Omikron as the predominant variant in Germany at the end of January, beginning of February,” said Daniela Behrens (SPD *) on Tuesday morning in the health committee of the state parliament in Hanover. The variant is spreading “very quickly”. In the afternoon, Behrens consults with her colleagues at the Corona summit.

Behrens emphasized that the vaccines used also worked against Omikron. However, it is still unclear whether the intensity of two vaccinations is sufficient for the immune response. The minister also stated that the Christmas rest planned in Lower Saxony was primarily intended to contain the Omikron variant. The state government is tightening the corona rules from Christmas Eve until January 2 – regardless of the then current indicators on the corona situation. The country is taking a different path.

Corona summit: Expert advice advises measures for the first time

+++ 9.00 a.m.: On Tuesday, a council of experts from the federal government will advise on further corona measures for the first time. Karl Lauterbach, the new Federal Minister of Health, wants to involve the committee of experts from science more closely in decisions in the future. “Policy in the pandemic needs scientific advice,” Lauterbach told the Rheinische Post.

The new Federal Minister of Health wants to implement his new line at an expert meeting on Tuesday (December 14th, 2021). At the first meeting of the Federal Government’s new Expert Council, politicians, physicians and scientists from other fields will discuss. And Karl Lauterbach promises to take the opinion of the experts first. “The exchange with my former colleagues will be the basis of my crisis management and the entire federal government,” said Lauterbach.

Danger from Corona variant Omikron: Expiry date required for vaccination certificates

Update from Tuesday, December 14th, 2021, 6.30 a.m.: Because of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, which is still spreading, the Green * health politician Janosch Dahmen is calling for extensive preparation. “Omikron is not yet reflected in the incidence rising again tomorrow, but we have to take precautions today,” said Dahmen of the Rheinische Post. The Green politician called for three concrete steps: The interval between the second and third vaccination must be shortened, an expiry date for the vaccination certificates and a new entry regulation are necessary.

At the upcoming Corona summit of health ministers on Tuesday (December 14th, 2021), new resolutions are expected to increase the vaccination rate once again in view of Omikron.

Corona variant Omikron: “Run” on vaccination centers in Great Britain

+++ 3 p.m.: Even before it became known that “at least one patient” had died in Great Britain as a result of a corona infection with the omicron variant, it was determined that the mutation was spreading at “phenomenal speed”. “We have never seen anything like it,” said Health Minister Sajid Javid on TV broadcaster Sky News.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already appealed to the population several times to be boosted. His appeals now seem to be working. On Monday (December 13th, 2021) there was a “run” on vaccination centers and pharmacies in Great Britain *. Before 9 a.m. in the morning, more than 110,000 people had been vaccinated against the corona virus for the third time.

+++ 1 p.m.: In Great Britain there is the first death related to a corona infection of the Omicron variant. Prime Minister Boris Johnson * announced this on Monday (December 13th, 2021). “Sadly, Omikron leads to hospitalizations and unfortunately it has been confirmed that at least one patient has died from Omikron,” said Johnson during a visit to a vaccination clinic in London.

+++ 12.45 p.m.: The vaccine from Biontech / Pfizer * apparently has a weaker effect against the circulating omicron variant of the corona virus. This is shown by a study that also examined the Astrazeneca * vaccine, for example. The study was based on population data from Great Britain. According to the scientists, however, the benefits of a booster vaccination became apparent. As a result, the vaccination protection has been significantly increased.

Omikron: Lauterbach reveals plans on how to avert the new corona wave

First report from Monday, December 13th, 2021, 9:30 a.m .: Berlin – The Corona variant Omikron is now also spreading in Germany – and at a dramatic time. Because: Even before the variant appeared, the nationwide incidence rose steadily. The number of cases of corona infections in Germany * has been high for weeks, the incidence at times above 400.

As reported by the Robert Koch Institute, the predominant variant in Germany is still the delta variant. * In calendar week 48, over 99 percent of citizens were still infected with this variant. Less than one percent became infected with the alpha variant * and Omikron. But the research results so far on the new mutant indicate that these numbers could soon increase significantly, and are getting experts from all over the world.

Corona variant Omikron: Model shows what makes the mutant so dangerous

Accordingly, the Corona variant Omikron avoids vaccination protection *. Virologist Sandra Ciesek already urged on Twitter that “the development of a vaccine adapted to Omikron makes sense”. At first glance, the research results on the course of the mutant seem like positive news. Because the variant could be more contagious, but not more deadly. But Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach * saw himself forced on Twitter to destroy even this faint hope.

Corona mutant Omikron: Karl Lauterbach shares worrying model

In his tweet, Lauterbach shared a model calculation by biologist Gasperowicz from the University of Calgary in Canada. The model shows the case numbers of three possible variants. One with quick transferability and a normal course of the disease, the other with high transferability that is comparatively “mild”. The deaths from the latter are just as high over time. The lowest number of deaths is found in the variant whose transferability is rather low and whose fatality is twice as high.

Lauterbach commented on the model with the words: “Here you can see again in the model calculation why Corona variants, which are much more contagious, kill significantly more people than more deadly ones that do not spread quickly. Severe course kills linearly, high contagion kills exponentially. That is where the danger from Omikron lies ”. But what can be done about it?

Lauterbach on Corona variant Omikron: “Booster vaccination incredibly valuable”

The new health minister also spoke about this. With Anne Will * on ARD *, he clearly relies on boosting. Because with the third vaccination, the protection increases again to 75 percent. The people who became infected despite the corona vaccination would usually not get seriously ill. “The booster vaccination is therefore incredibly valuable because we can both end the delta wave and avert the omicron wave,” says Lauterbach.

Therefore, the Federal Minister of Health wants to make booster vaccinations one of his priorities in the next few months. It is important to press down the delta wave now. Lauterbach expects that the first “anti-omicron vaccines” will be available from April or May. “If we have broken the delta wave by then and have pushed the omicron wave in front of us with the booster vaccination, then we can get through quite well,” says Lauterbach, ultimately giving hope. (slo / tu / kh / lrg with dpa / AFP) * is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.

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