Omikron is spreading all over the world. In Germany, the “wave” can no longer be prevented. All news at a glance.
- The new Corona variant * Omikron is spreading rapidly around the world.
- The Corona mutant Omikron appears to be far more contagious than the previously dominant Delta variant. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach * (SPD *) does not believe that another wave can be stopped.
- The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) demands strict contact restrictions from the federal and state governments in the fight against Omikron. Israel starts with the fourth corona vaccination. All information in the live ticker.
+++ 2.20 p.m.: According to Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD), another wave of corona infections from the new Omikron variant can no longer be stopped. Lauterbach said on Wednesday in Berlin that the wave with the delta mutation was just getting under control. “Nonetheless, we must now certainly expect a fifth wave,” he added. One must assume “that the Omikron wave in Germany can no longer be prevented”.
In preparation for this wave, the measures that were decided on Tuesday by the Prime Minister’s Conference were used, explained Lauterbach. Accordingly, clubs and discos should close from December 28th and strict contact restrictions will apply again to those who have been vaccinated. Lauterbach also emphasized the need for booster vaccinations, as the experts believe that Omikron can bypass vaccination protection after double immunization.
Omikron: US Army has reportedly already developed vaccine against variant
Update from December 22nd, 2021, 8:59 am: Scientists from the “Walter Reed Army Institute of Research” are said to have developed a vaccine that is effective against COVID-19 and all its variants, including Omikron.
This success is the result of almost two years of work on the virus, as the US portal Defense One writes. According to Defense One, the US Army laboratory received its first DNA sequencing of the COVID-19 virus in early 2020. The department for infectious diseases of “Walter Reed” therefore decided very early on to concentrate on the development of a vaccine that works not only against the existing strain, but also against all of its potential variants.
The Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle COVID-19 vaccine (SpFN) from “Walter Reed” concluded with positive results in animal experiments at the beginning of this year. Phase 1 of the human trials, in which the vaccine against Omikron and the other variants was tested, was concluded this month, according to the report, also with positive results, which are now finally being tested. This was confirmed by Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the infectious diseases department of “Walter Reed”, in an exclusive interview with Defense One.
Omicron variant: Israel wants to start with the fourth corona vaccination
+++ 11.20 p.m.: Israel wants to offer the fourth corona vaccination to over 60-year-olds. The reason for this is the spread of the highly contagious Omikron variant. A panel of experts from the Israeli government also recommended on Tuesday evening (December 21, 2021) that health system employees should be vaccinated for the fourth time. This was reported by the German press agency.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on all citizens who meet these criteria to get vaccinated. According to his office, he instructed the health insurance companies to prepare for another broad vaccination campaign. This will help “overcome the omicron wave that is flooding the world,” said Bennett. “Israeli citizens were the first in the world to receive the third dose of vaccination and we are continuing with the fourth vaccination.”
Omicron variant in Israel: fourth corona vaccination for people over 60 and in the healthcare sector
In view of the spread of omicrons, the corona cabinet in Israel also decided on new corona measures on Tuesday evening. In school classes, for example, there should be distance learning again. This applies to places with high incidence, where less than 70 percent of students have received a primary vaccination. The Ministerial Committee also decided to take stricter precautionary measures in shopping centers. And from January, parents will have to pay for antigen tests for their children themselves.
An infection with the Omicron variant has already been detected in around 200 people in Israel. There are also several hundred suspected cases. Israel has already passed the fourth corona wave. The number of infections had recently risen again. Only around 59 percent of the 9.4 million Israelis are still considered fully vaccinated. This includes people who have been vaccinated twice up to 6 months after the second vaccination and people with a booster vaccination. 32 percent of the population are not vaccinated at all. In nine percent, the vaccination has already expired.
Omikron variant more aggressive: Scholz warns of a massive increase in the corona numbers
+++ 8:25 p.m .: Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz * (SPD *) has prepared the German population for a huge increase in corona infection from the Omikron variant. For example, Omikron will massively increase the number of infections, said Scholz on Tuesday (December 21, 2021) after a conference of the federal and state ministers in Berlin. “We have to adjust to that now”.
Omikron is more aggressive. It could be that the vaccination protection is weakened by this variant. Only a booster vaccination gives a reasonably adequate protection. Scholz also thanked the government’s Corona Expert Council, which proposed measures against Omikron on Sunday (December 19, 2021). At the same time, the Chancellor announced that the fourth corona wave was slowly declining due to the corona measures decided in November. But now it shows: “It won’t be over as soon as we had hoped.”
Omicron variant: WHO sees “storm coming”
The World Health Organization (WHO) sees the omicron variant of the coronavirus on an unconditional advance in Europe. Since it was identified less than four weeks ago, the virus variant has been discovered in at least 38 of the 53 member states of the WHO Europe region, said regional director Hans Kluge on Tuesday.
There are still many unanswered questions about Omikron, but we already know that the variant is becoming or has already become dominant in countries such as Denmark, Portugal and Great Britain. “We can see another storm coming,” said Kluge.
Within the next few weeks, the new variant will dominate in other countries in the region and bring the already tense health care system even further to its limits, said Kluge. Omikron is likely to become the dominant variant circulating in the European region. In addition to the EU, WHO also counts several countries further east in this region, including Russia, Ukraine and Turkey.
Omicron variant: Experts from South Africa urge calm
Update from Tuesday, December 21st, 2021, 6:13 p.m.: After the omicron variant of the corona virus caused waves of unrest worldwide, experts from South Africa urge prudence. The omicron symptoms are much milder than previously thought. This reported the news portal Al Jazeera. In addition, South Africa criticizes that other countries have wrongly imposed the strictest travel restrictions on South Africa, although it is generally accepted that the Omikron variant does not come from South Africa.
Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who first alerted the authorities to the presence of the new Covid-19 variant, has described the symptoms of Omikron as “very, very mild” compared to those of the Delta variant. Common omicron symptoms are muscle pain, tiredness, sore throat, and night sweats. As reported by Deutsche Welle, the Omikron variant is causing increasing numbers of infections in South Africa, but apparently less serious illnesses and deaths than in previous waves of pandemics.
Dr. However, Mike Ryan, of the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Health Program, believes, “There is no doubt that the rising numbers and numbers of infections will lead to more hospitalizations in the coming weeks.”
Omicron variant: New studies from South Africa on the corona mutant
On December 14, Discovery Health, South Africa’s largest private health insurance administrator, released data on more than 211,000 people who tested positive for Covid-19 between November 15 and December 7, 2021. About 78,000 of these people were infected with the Omikron variant. Analysis, carried out in collaboration with the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), found that two doses of the Biontech vaccine provided 70 percent protection against hospitalization and 33 percent protection against infection during the recent surge in cases. This is lower than the protection against the Delta variant. Here the vaccine protects 93 percent against hospital stays and 80 percent against infections.
The analysis also found that the risk of hospitalization among adults diagnosed with Covid-19 was still 29 percent lower than in the first wave in South Africa last year.
Study from London on the Omicron variant: higher risk of reinfection
But a study by Imperial College London casts doubt on the cautious optimism of South African doctors. The study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, examined a total of 333,000 cases. Including 122,062 infections caused by the Delta variant and 1,846 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant. The researchers found no evidence that the severity of symptoms or hospital admissions differed between the Delta and Omicron variants.
However, the data included only 24 hospital admissions of patients suspected of having the Omikron variant. The researchers therefore admitted that “hospital admission data are currently still very limited”. Compared to Delta, the Omikron variant is associated with a 5.4 times higher risk of re-infection, according to the study. The study put the protection offered by a previous infection at around 19 percent. With a booster vaccination, the protection is between 55 and 80 percent.
Omikron: RKI recommends immediate “maximum contact restrictions”
First report from Tuesday, December 21, 2021, 1:59 p.m.: Berlin – The current Corona situation in Germany is causing the experts more and more worries. Now the Robert Koch Institute has also spoken out. Shortly before the federal-state top round, the RKI recommends far-reaching restrictions to protect against the Corona variant Omikron.
In view of the current dangers, “maximum contact restrictions” are necessary from now on, according to an updated version of the RKI Corona strategy published on December 21, 2021. The institute lists a number of measures that will begin immediately and should initially be maintained until mid-January.
The strategy document names some specific recommendations from the RKI experts, some of which go well beyond the plans of the federal-state group, such as:
- Extension of the Christmas holidays for schools and day-care centers
- Closure of restaurants, bars and indoor sports facilities
- Conversion of teaching in universities and other colleges to distance teaching
Also required are maximum speed when vaccinating the population, reducing travel to what is “absolutely necessary” and “intensive accompanying communication to understand the measures”.
Omikron variant: RKI speaks of “pandemic wave currently starting in Germany”
With a view to the new Omikron variant of the coronavirus, the RKI speaks of a “pandemic wave currently starting in Germany”. Even if this wave is still in its infancy in this country, a look abroad shows “that this variant will result in a wave of infections with a dynamic that has not yet been observed”.
Despite the remaining uncertainties, initial analyzes indicated that Omikron could identify the majority of cases of infection in Germany as early as January 2022, the RKI announced. There could be tens of thousands of Omikron infections per day. Under the current conditions, the doubling time in Germany is around three days.
“The 2G / 3G concepts should be sharpened taking into account the Omikron variant, since a considerable transmission of this variant must also be assumed by those who have recovered and who have been completely vaccinated without a booster”, writes the RKI.
The number of new cases of the fourth wave due to the delta variant is declining, writes the RKI. Nevertheless, the hospital admissions and the utilization of the intensive care units are still at a very high level. “If the dynamics of the impending Omikron wave are not slowed down, the high number of cases expected in a short period of time means that the health care structures in Germany will be overburdened.” Energy, police, fire brigade – have to be reckoned with.
The further course of the epidemiological situation in the next few weeks depends on the behavior of the population on the holidays and the unpredictable strength of the flu circulation as another pathogen with epidemic potential. (red / dpa / afp) * fr.de is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.
List of rubric lists: © Kay Nietfeld / dpa