Some German states are reporting that the share of the variant in new infections has increased noticeably. New figures on the nationwide situation from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) are expected soon.
It is thought that the super contagious variant, initially discovered in India, has continued to spread in many parts of Germany – although it has so far remained at a low level overall.
In light of the development, high-profile virologist Christian Drosten advocates raising awareness of the importance of vaccination.
“That’s really what we need to do now,” the expert from Berlin’s Charité hospital said on the Coronavirus Update podcast (NDR-Info).
He did not specify whether Germany could experience a rise in cases in summer, like has been seen in the UK.
In any case, the incidence rate will surge again in autumn, Drosten said, stressing the importance of vaccination among parents of school children.
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“We just have to vaccinate quickly,” Drosten said. If this is not enough it will again be necessary to counteract with contact restrictions, he added. “But there are also good reasons to think that this will not be necessary in Germany.”
On Wednesday, the nationwide incidence stood at 7.2 infections per 100,000 residents in seven days (previous day: 8.0; previous week: 13.2). Germany reported 1,016 new infections within a day (previous week: 1,455) and 51 deaths.
More than 51 percent of the German population has received at least one vaccine dose, and around 31.6 percent are fully jabbed.
States reporting rise in Delta
On Tuesday, some German states reported that the proportion of the variant had surged in their states. In Hesse, it already accounts for more than one-fifth of new infections, according to health minister Kai Klose (Greens). “We do have clear indications that Delta is already dominating over 20 percent of cases in Hesse as well,” he said.
In Bavaria, the number of confirmed infections with the Delta variant has almost doubled in the course of a week – from 132 to 229 cases, according to state chancellery head Florian Herrmann (CSU).
In some laboratories, the proportion is now almost a quarter.
In Baden-Württemberg it is also spreading rapidly – but at a low level. According to the state health office on Monday, the number of Delta variant cases logged variant (up until June 21st) is around 368.
There have also been reports of outbreaks throughout the country, including at a housing block in Dresden that saw residents forced to quarantine, as well as in schools and nurseries.
Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) recently said it was not a question of if, but when Delta would determine the incidence of infection in Germany.
The proportion of the Delta variant in a random sample had last been just over six percent nationwide (week of May 31st to June 6th), according to RKI data.
This was an increase compared to the previous weeks, but the trend in the absolute number of detected cases is downward. The RKI’s new viral variant report is expected Wednesday evening. Delta is already the dominant variant in the UK, accounting for almost all new cases.
Target vaccination sceptics
The chairman of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, called for a stronger approach to “vaccination sceptics and vaccination deniers”.
“If we do not also convince part of this group of the sense of vaccination, we will not achieve herd immunity,” Montgomery told the Editorial Network Germany. Referring to the Delta variant, he explained, “Those who don’t get vaccinated will sooner or later become infected with the coronavirus.”
Drosten said his lab data shows initial indications that people infected with Delta have an even higher viral load than those infected with the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) – first detected in the UK.
Drosten said research suggests the Delta variant causes slightly more severe courses of illness. However, he said, the protection against a severe course of the disease for fully vaccinated individuals is equivalent compared with the Alpha variant, which is still dominant in Germany.
However, protection with only one vaccine dose is considered weaker against Delta than against earlier forms of the virus.
Spread – ausgebreitet
Contagious – ansteckend
Vaccination sceptics – (die) Impfskeptiker
Vaccination deniers (die) Impfleugner
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