The virologist Christian Drosten still sees many open questions about the new Corona variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected in Great Britain.
“It’s still very difficult to classify,” said the head of virology at the Berlin Charité in the “Coronavirus Update” podcast on Tuesday at NDR-Info. “I assume that we may, say, by Easter or by May have very clear experimental evidence as to whether or not this virus is more transmissible and dangerous. But that will just take time. “
The virologist described how widespread the new variant is in Germany is currently being compiled. He is currently not assuming there will be a major problem with it. After seeing data from Denmark on the subject, he was of the opinion that the variant had to be taken seriously, explained Drosten. In Germany, too, one has to look more closely at the mutation.
The background to this are fears that the variant is more transmissible – that is, that an infected person infects more people on average than before, i.e. that the variant is associated with a higher number of reproductions.
Drosten is “not very worried” about the effectiveness of vaccinations because of the corona mutation
With regard to the effectiveness of the vaccination, Drosten reiterated: “We don’t have any major worries at the moment.” Rather, the concern is that the variant could have a significantly higher R value compared to earlier forms, around 1.5 instead of 1.
If such a scenario is confirmed, it would be a problem, according to Drosten. “That’s an exponential phenomenon,” he emphasized. The virologist has also repeatedly expressed the hope that B.1.1.7 could make you less ill.
After verification in Great Britain, the variant was also confirmed in other countries. So far, only a few cases are known in Germany, for example in Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia. The Robert Koch Institute expects more cases to come. Experts fear that the spread could make fighting the pandemic more difficult.
Drosten warns of Corona mutation from South Africa
A Corona variant known from South Africa must also be “observed at least as much” as the English one, stressed Drosten. He believes that travelers returning from the country should be tested. There is now a time window to prevent the spread in this country.
The federal and state governments decided on Tuesday to extend and tighten the lockdown until the end of January, to curb the entry of such mutations from abroad as much as possible. In Germany they should be discovered through increased sequencing; in doing so, gene sequences are searched for. The spread should be limited as much as possible through prioritized tracking and quarantine.
jg / dpa