Acording to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), evidence of the Indian coronavirus variant B.1.617 in Germany remains relatively low.
So far, it has been discovered “only sporadically”, 22 times in a week in examined samples, according to an RKI report published on Wednesday evening. In the previous week, the institute said they had found it 21 times.
“We have isolated cases in Germany, we will release a new report tomorrow,” Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute infectious disease agency, told reporters when asked about the B.1.617 variant.
The World Health Organization said Tuesday that the variant had been detected in “at least 17 countries”.
German media said Cologne reported two cases with the variant. According to broadcaster WDR both of those affected had recently returned from India.
The variant was also discovered in two returning travellers in Baden-Württemberg.
India is experiencing a dramatic surge in Covid cases, with hundreds of thousands of infections being reported daily among its population of 1.38 billion people. Several countries, including Germany, are providing medical supplies and support.
Germany banned travel from India earlier this week, allowing only citizens and residents to enter.
‘No weakening’ of British variant
The RKI report states that the dominance of the particularly contagious variant B.1.1.7, which originated in the UK and has been fuelling the third wave Germany, remains the dominant strain in the Bundesrepublik.
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The RKI said there is “no weakening” of the prevalence of this variant in Germany.
In the two other variants from South Africa (B.1.351) and Brazil (P.1), which are also classified as worrying, the proportions remain consistently low in Germany, at one percent and less, data shows.
In Germany, however, only a fraction of the samples are examined for variants using so-called whole genome sequencing.
The Indian variant is under observation by the WHO.
Experts say it is too early to say whether the Indian variant, B.1.617, is responsible for the rapid increase in infections there.
The RKI says there is currently still a lack of knowledge on how dangerous the variant is.
Experts are particularly concerned with the question of whether variants cause increased transmission from one person to another, and if vaccines are effective against them.
What are the latest numbers in Germany?
On Thursday the RKI logged 24,736 cases within the last 24 hours and 264 deaths. On Thursday a week ago, Germany recorded 29,518 new infections and 259 new deaths within a day.
The number of cases per 100,000 people in seven days fell to 154.9 on Thursday, which could be the sign of a downward trend. The day before, the RKI said the 7-day incidence was 160.6; a week ago it was 161.1.