Germany’s infection rate rises slightly as new Covid variant reaches Europe

Germany's infection rate rises slightly as new Covid variant reaches Europe
Guests sit at packed tables at a bar in Cantabria, Spain, where the Lambda variant has been spreading in recent days. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/EUROPA PRESS | Juan Manuel Serrano Arce
The 7-day incidence of Covid-19 infections went up slightly in Germany on Wednesday. Health experts are also keeping a close eye on the 'Lambda' variant, which was first discovered in South America and is now present in Europe.

On Wednesday morning, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 985 new infections in a single day in Germany – compared to 808 the previous week.

The nationwide 7-day incidence also crept up slightly to 5.1 per 100,000 people, compared to 4.9 on Tuesday. The previous week, the 7-day incidence stood at 5.2 per 100,000 residents. 

This is the second time the downward trend in Covid infections has reversed slightly this week.

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On Sunday, the incidence sneaked up overnight from 4.9 to 5.0, causing experts to question whether the trend reversal was a mere blip, or a sign that infections were once again set to rise in Germany. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s coronavirus infections rise for first time in four weeks

On Monday and Tuesday, the numbers sunk back to previous levels, but then rose once again on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, for the first time since April, the reproduction number (R number), which shows the speed that Covid infections are spreading, is above the threshold of 1.

The RKI said the 7-day R number on Wednesday was 1.01 (previous day: 0.93). This means that 100 people with Covid go on to infect on average 101 others.

The R number represents the infection incidence 8 to 16 days ago. If it is below 1 for a longer period of time, the incidence of infection is decreasing; if it is continuously above 1, the number of cases is going up.

Experts will be watching closely to see if there is a stagnating or upward trend over the coming days and weeks. There are concerns that the Delta variant will push up the number of cases, as has been seen in other countries including the UK and Israel.

The number of deaths, however, has dropped slightly compared to the previous week. On Wednesday, 48 deaths were recorded across Germany within 24 hours, while a week ago this figure was 56.

The ‘Lambda’ variant reaches Europe’s shores 

As states across Germany continue to relax restrictions, and businesses welcome workers back to offices, there is further concerning news for health specialists: the Lambda Covid variant, which was first discovered in Peru, has found its way to Europe.

According to Spanish media sources, the northern region of Cantabria has recorded 80 confirmed cases of the variant, which has also been termed the ‘Anden variant’. 

In addition, a number of Lambda infections have also been confirmed in the UK in recent days. 

Public Health England, the country’s public health authority, said it believed Lambda could have  “a potential increased transmissibility or possible increased resistance to neutralizing antibodies”.

This means it could spread faster and also be more dangerous than Delta – though this is has not yet been confirmed by studies.

New ‘virus variant’ areas?

At the time of its discovery in Peru in August 2020, Lambda accounted for 0.5 percent of all Covid cases in the country. At present, this figure is thought to have shot up to 82 percent. 

The variant has also spread to 29 other countries so far – most of them in South America. 

From July 7th, the United Kingdom – where the Delta variant is prevalent – has been scrubbed from the RKI’s ‘virus variant’ list in light of the variant’s spread in Germany. 

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If the Lambda variant continues to spread in that region, the UK could find itself back on the virus variant list in the coming weeks. 

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the RKI has registered 3,732,549 detected infections with Sars-CoV-2 in Germany.

The actual total number is likely to be significantly higher, as many infections go undetected.


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