“The orientation is now given again”

March 02, 2022 – 13:37 Clock

Summer, sun, corona-free break? This has always been the case in recent years. But because the omicron variant is very contagious, Germany’s number 1 corona expert, Christian Drosten, advises in the “Coronavirus Update” podcast not to do without FFP2 masks indoors in summer. This is the only way to provide effective protection against infections. In this episode, the virologist also announced that from now on he would like to devote himself entirely to research again – and that it would be the last podcast. Because the orientation is now given again – and it is the turn of politics.

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Vaccination progress insufficient

Despite the falling number of corona infections in Germany, the virologist Christian Drosten assumes that it will also be possible to get infected with the omicron variant of the virus in summer. On the one hand, the current vaccination progress is not sufficient, on the other hand, the infection activity by omicron is still high, said the scientist from the Berlin Charité on Tuesday in the podcast “Coronavirus Update” on NDR-Info. “Therefore, I assume that there will not be an infection-free summer.”

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Omicron infections are also possible in summer

Drosten pointed out that in South Africa, for example, the omicron wave had risen steeply in midsummer. He doesn’t assume that an “untamed” wave will be seen in Germany in the summer, but “you will also be able to get infected with this omicron virus in the summer”. Accordingly, he also thinks it is advisable to continue wearing masks indoors in summer. In particular, wearing FFP2 masks indoors is “the most efficient measure of all” in the long term.

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Winter 2022/2023: Loss of work on a large scale

With a view to temperatures falling again over the course of the year, Drosten expressed the assessment that there would be another winter wave. He hopes that this will not be accompanied by a serious burden of illness in the population, but the risk of large-scale work absences will continue to exist. “The pandemic is not only over when the vaccination has reduced the severity of the disease, but also when this high level of transmissibility has ended as a result of certain modifications in the population,” he warned.

Omicron subtype BA.2 remains an element of uncertainty

Drosten explained that the omicron subtype BA.2, which is probably even easier to transmit and is spreading more and more, remains an uncertainty factor for the development. In its current weekly report, the RKI shows the proportion of positive findings in a sample to be around 24 percent.

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Drosten said that previous study data from several countries cannot be used to determine whether BA.2 leads to more severe disease progressions. The data are still very preliminary. However, he hopes for insights from Hong Kong, where many older people have been very hesitant about the vaccination and where Omicron is now showing a heavy burden of disease in this group.

Omicron: Booster effect of the 3rd vaccination as good as adapted vaccine

Despite the fact that the vaccines have already been adapted to Omikron, Drosten reiterated his appeal to first be vaccinated and boosted with the vaccines that are already available. A US study with macaques has shown, for example, that the booster effect of a third vaccination with the Moderna vaccine against Omikron is just as good as that with a vaccine adapted for Omikron. It is true that no concrete conclusions can be drawn from this for humans. But Drosten advised clearly: “You shouldn’t wait, you should take the third dose with the old vaccine. You can always refresh yourself.”

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Drosten says goodbye to the podcast: “Not much more to say”

At the same time, the virologist announced in the podcast that it was the last episode of the update and that he now wanted to devote himself exclusively to research again. “I already have the feeling that the orientation is now back and that things went very smoothly with Omikron, in terms of the severity of the disease and the good protective effect of the vaccination, as we have it now,” Drosten explains his decision there.

The next interim information will come sometime during or rather at the end of the second quarter on the topics of update vaccination and its benefits. “Until then, I don’t think there is much left to say,” Drosten continued. “And I don’t see that as a reason to continue extending this podcast now because I’m not interested in being a media figure.” (dpa/ija)

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