The highly contagious Coronavirus variant Omikron is driving up the number of infections in Germany. Virologist Christian Drosten warns – and at the same time gives courage.
Berlin – The Omikron variant of the coronavirus is now increasing the incidence in Germany as well. The holidays are over and the health authorities are reporting more data to the RKI again. This has an impact on the number of corona cases, which has been rising steadily for days.
From the point of view of the virologist Christian Drosten, a booster vaccination is the best weapon against infection with the highly contagious omicron variant of the virus. “What really protects against Omikron is the triple vaccination,” said the scientist from the Charité in Berlin on Tuesday (January 4th, 2022) in the NDR’s “Coronavirus Update” podcast. Therefore, the strong focus on the booster vaccinations in Germany is right and important.
Christian Drosten on Omikron: Smaller proportion of those infected have to go to hospital
Looking at previous observations, according to which Omikron presumably caused milder disease courses, Drosten said: “I think you can now say that this is the case.” The collected data indicated that a smaller proportion of those infected with Omikron infections Hospital must.
Drosten referred to a study by Imperial College London, dated shortly before Christmas, according to which the risk of hospitalization with an Omicron infection was up to 30 percent lower than with the Delta variant. For people who have been vaccinated twice, the risk drops by 34 percent, and for people with a booster vaccination by as much as 63 percent. For those who have not been vaccinated and who are infected with the Omikron variant, this risk is reduced by 24 percent.
Christian Drosten: Positive effects against Omikron through booster vaccination
In view of the “many unvaccinated people that we unfortunately have in Germany”, this is good news, according to Drosten. However, courses of varying severity are inevitably to be expected and the all-clear is not appropriate. In addition, the positive effect of the booster vaccination is clearly shown here: “The gain not vaccinated to two times vaccinated is only ten percent more, but the gain from twice vaccinated to three times vaccinated is then almost doubled.”
A Danish study from December also shows how important booster vaccinations are. Only the third vaccination dose significantly reduces the risk of being infected with Omikron, explained Drosten. The double vaccination is likely to do less to control the spread. “We are pretty unprotected against Omikron and the triple vaccination, it makes the difference.”
Omikron will soon be the dominant variant
In view of the rapid spread of Omikron, the virologist predicted that the variant would now quickly “take over the business” and will also dominate in Germany at the end of January. In this country, it is currently assumed that the number of Omikron infections will double by around four days; in other countries, the doubling time has already been around two days. The currently comparatively slower increase in the Omikron numbers in Germany is primarily due to the corona measures that are still in force – in contrast to many other countries.
On Friday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the Prime Ministers of the federal states want to discuss the further corona course for the first time in the new year. It should also be about a possible change to quarantine regulations. Shorter times are under discussion, especially for employees in important supply areas, in order to avoid too many staff absences. Drosten said this shortening was an important consideration. If the Omikron wave were dynamic, a lot of workers would ultimately be lost, which would be “a great deal of damage to society”.
Corona variant Omikron: Drosten warns of an infection
The virologist warned strongly against coming to the conclusion that it was better to go through an infection than to be vaccinated, given the comparatively mild course. Even young, completely fit people risked severe courses and, for example, lung damage.
Looking ahead to the next few weeks and months, Drosten said: “We will definitely see a steep wave too, but I think we are on the same path overall, let’s say towards Easter, where we still have many options, many cards, that we can still pull. “You have to moderate the infection process and readjust it in the right places, demanded Drosten in the podcast at NDR. (skr / dpa)
Rubric picture: © FABRIZIO BENSCH