Lauterbach: “Omikron does not replace vaccination”

As of: 01/16/2022 5:01 p.m

Getting infected with the mild omicron variant and then being protected against corona – not a few have this hope. But Minister of Health Lauterbach warns: an omicron infection offers little protection against other variants.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach does not see an alternative to vaccination in infection with the milder omicron variant of the coronavirus. “The unvaccinated person who now gets an Omicron infection will have little protection against other variants in the fall,” tweeted the SPD politician. “Omicron does not replace vaccination.”

Lauterbach agreed with a tweet by vaccine researcher Florian Krammer. Referring to existing data, he argued that the immune response triggered by the omicron variant was very specific. It therefore protects against the omicron variant, but not against other virus variants. A basic immunity, as it is achieved by a complete vaccination, however, includes a very broad immune response.

“We face very difficult weeks”

Lauterbach had previously warned of a high number of deaths and severe restrictions on hospital treatment in view of the omicron wave and the low vaccination rate in Germany. “We are threatened with very difficult weeks in Germany,” said the minister of “Bild am Sonntag”.

At the moment, it is mainly the younger people with many contacts who are ill. But as soon as the elderly become infected, the number of hospital admissions will increase again. Then the space in the intensive care units and in the normal wards could become scarce. In international comparison, Germany has an older population with many chronically ill people. This is “fire hazard”.

Incidence rises to more than 500 for the first time

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) again reported a peak in the nationwide seven-day incidence. Accordingly, the value of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants and week on Sunday morning was 515.7 – and thus above the threshold of 500 for the first time. For comparison: the day before the value was 497.1. A week ago, the nationwide incidence was 362.7.

The focus of the virus spread is still in northern Germany and there in the city states: According to the RKI, Bremen has the highest seven-day incidence with a value of 1401.2. It is followed by Berlin with 965.3 and Hamburg with 831.5. Schleswig-Holstein recorded a value of 665.6. But in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Brandenburg and Hesse, too, the values ​​are now above the 500 threshold again.

The health authorities in Germany reported 52,504 new corona infections to the RKI within one day. A week ago there were 36,552 infections. According to the new information, 47 deaths were recorded across Germany within 24 hours. A week ago there were 77 deaths.

Drosten sees an “opportunity” in Omikron

The virologist Christian Drosten told the “Tagesspiegel am Sonntag” that the milder omicron variant basically offers the possibility of becoming endemic. “There would be a chance now, assuming broad immunity,” he said. In an endemic situation, the virus is permanently present, but there are fewer waves of infection. The number of illnesses thus remains relatively constant over time.

Drosten said that sooner or later everyone will have to become infected with Sars-CoV-2. “Yes, we have to get into this channel, there is no alternative,” he said. “In the long term, we cannot maintain the immune protection of the entire population with a booster vaccination every few months.” The virus has to do that. “The virus has to spread, but on the basis of vaccination protection that is anchored in the general population” – otherwise “too many people would die”.

Clinics are registering more patient admissions

According to the DIVI register, the number of Covid 19 patients in intensive care treatment fell by 58 within one day to 2741. 61 percent of them are invasively ventilated. However, the clinics are reporting a trend towards more patient admissions with Covid diseases – especially in the normal wards.

“We are already seeing this increase in the normal wards in some regions, for example in Bremen, Berlin, Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein,” said the President of the German Hospital Society, Gerald Gass, of the “Augsburger Allgemeine”. “In contrast to previous waves, more patients will probably arrive in the normal wards in the coming weeks, since the likelihood of having a severe course is lower at Omikron.”

Gaß told the newspapers of the Funke media group: “We will have to postpone elective services.” This applies to orthopedic operations as well as therapies for chronic diseases and cancer patients. “We cannot rule out that in many cases this will also lead to real damage.”

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