It can happen quickly: This has been shown several times during the pandemic, when variants replaced previous types of coronavirus. It is considered certain that the omicron subline BA.5 will become dominant. Experts are already expecting this in four weeks.
They are always moving faster: This characterizes the development of the Corona variants. The new virus type always spread better than the previously dominant one. So it is only a matter of time before the omicron subtypes BA.4 and BA.5 will prevail in Germany. This image can already be seen in Portugal, Great Britain and the USA.
In just four weeks, the omicron subtype BA.5 could be responsible for the majority of all corona infections in Baden-Württemberg. Experts from the State Health Office expect this, as a spokesman for the Ministry of Health in Stuttgart announced on Thursday. First, the “Südwest Presse” reported.
In the past few weeks, the proportion of BA.5 certificates in Germany and Baden-Württemberg has always doubled, it said. According to data from the laboratories in the southwest, it was already three to ten percent in all samples examined last week. However, these data do not provide a complete picture, as only a small proportion of the cases of infection are examined for the virus variant each week.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on Thursday evening in its Corona weekly report that the sublines BA.4 and BA.5 should make up the majority of the evidence in a few weeks. According to the report, BA.5 had a share of ten percent in a sample from the week before last – the doubling continued from week to week. At BA.4 it is 2.1 percent, which is also about double the previous values.
“In all likelihood, these two sublines will spread more, so that there may be an overall increase in the number of infections and a renewed increase in infection pressure on vulnerable groups of people as early as summer,” warned the RKI. Seasonal effects – which actually slow down the virus a bit – could not compensate for the spread of these variants if rules of conduct are no longer observed.
BA.5 has basically been known for a few weeks. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies the subtype as part of omicron as a concern. According to experts, the so-called immune escape plays a role in the advantage that BA.5 has over the previous omicron sublines. This means that the viral genome has changed so that it evades antibodies from vaccinated and recovered people better.
The good news: Even if there are concerns about a possible increase in the severity of the disease, according to reports from Portugal, the RKI has not yet seen any evidence of this. The data so far did not indicate that infections with BA.4 or BA.5 caused more severe disease courses or proportionately more deaths than the sublines BA.1 and BA.2, the institute wrote. These had caused the past waves. BA.2 was recently found in almost every positive sample that was included in the investigation – the value has now fallen to 87.5 percent.
The nationwide seven-day incidence increased last week compared to the previous week for the first time since mid-March (29 percent), the RKI stated. It spoke of an increase in the number of infections transmitted in the past week by around 50,000 cases compared to the previous week.
So far, however, there has been no talk of a trend reversal in the situation in hospitals: According to the RKI, the burden on the capacities of the healthcare system is continuing to decrease. Most of the data in the report relates to last week.