NewsRecombination of omicron and delta: virologist Drosten warns of...

Recombination of omicron and delta: virologist Drosten warns of dangerous mutation

In an interview with Deutschlandfunk, virologist Drosten warned of a dangerous, potential mutation – one must fear a combination of delta and omicron.

Munich – Omikron as a harbinger of the end of the corona pandemic*? At least that’s what various experts suspect. In an interview with Deutschlandfunk, Christian Drosten warned against this assumption. It is quite possible that a new mutation*, a mixed form of the delta and the omicron variant, could arise.

Virologist Drosten warns of dangerous mutation: Drosten sees new, severe variant as “out of the question”

Omicron was widely considered harmless because, while it is more contagious as a variant, studies have shown that it tends to cause less severe cases compared to delta. Some even spoke of the step towards contamination. Christian Drosten put a damper on these speculations in the interview. “There is no inevitability that such a virus will become milder,” said Drosten.

Population immunity is building up – that’s for sure. This makes the disease caused by the virus appear milder. Drosten emphasizes the important distinction between the disease (the effects and progression) and the virus (the trigger): “This disease will become milder, with the virus there is still a lot of evolutionary-biological coincidence at play at the moment,” says the virologist.

Christian Drosten


Christian Drosten, Director of the Institute for Virology at the Charité Berlin, warns of a supermutation.

“It is far from certain that the omicron virus, as it is now, will remain in this somewhat mitigated state. It’s a very shaky situation at the moment,” said Drosten. There are possibilities in both directions – a further mitigation or “that it will be harder again.” In this state, Drosten even sees it as “practically out of the question that we will get a very difficult variant again.” Karl Lauterbach has also already warned of one further mutation.

Virologist Drosten warns of dangerous mutation: A combination of omicron and delta?

What could this “heavier again” look like? In the podcast, virologist Drosten speaks of a possible combination of delta and omicron. The Omicron variant tricks the immune system because “the protection against transmission is bypassed.” The population’s immunity was built up against the first serotype of the virus. Omicron has a second, modified type. It therefore now spreads more easily than the previous variant. This is mainly due to the so-called spike protein from Omikron.

And further? There are various ways in which the corona virus can also come back as a “more disease-causing variant – compared to Omicron,” Drosten told Deutschlandfunk . “For example, one could imagine that recombination happens.” It is conceivable that in the future a virus will emerge that carries the “spike protein from the omicron virus to continue to enjoy this immune advantage, but the rest of the genome from the delta Virus has.” From “both worlds” the strongest characteristics could come together. “There is something like that, it has already been described, you have to fear at the moment that something like this could happen,” Drosten estimates. Other ways to a new “higher pathogenic effect” are also conceivable. The first laboratory results are said to have already proven connections between Delta and Omikron, a so-called Deltakron variant. However, experts doubt its authenticity.

Supermutation of delta and omicron? Drosten warns of fallacy in the vaccination campaign

Supermutations and recombinations: What needs to be done from the virologist’s point of view? Can the mutation be stopped in this way? “That’s the argument for the vaccination, that you shouldn’t sit back and say, well, the omicron virus, it obviously takes a milder course, then the pandemic is over now. Now we can all get infected with it, then we are immune afterwards, ”said the virologist in an interview. “That’s a fallacy,” he says clearly. Other experts also warn against false hopes.

Drosten explains in an interview that mutations can easily occur if the immunization is different around the world. Since industrialized countries with older populations cannot allow natural contamination due to the high death rates, the natural occurrence of the pandemic must be accompanied by vaccinations. The fact that some people in this country still refuse vaccination is “a real problem,” said Drosten. In this way, Germany would at least help prevent the world population from becoming immunized more or less at the same time. “While in Africa, for example, in countries with fortunately younger population profiles, where fortunately fewer deaths occur, population immunity is now almost complete, we have this hesitation in some places in the industrialized countries,” said Drosten. Germany currently has a vaccination rate of 73.3 percent (second vaccinated, as of 21.1) (chd) * is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.

List of rubrics: © Kay Nietfeld/dpa

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