Coronavirus: Delta variant is spreading rapidly, according to the RKI


Delta is here – and is expanding rapidly!

The Corona variant Delta, discovered in India, has significantly increased its share of Sars-CoV-2 new infections in Germany within a week. At 6.2 percent in calendar week 22 (May 31 to June 6), it remains relatively rare, according to the latest report from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on the mutants from Wednesday evening classified as worrying. In the previous week, the proportion of the delta variant in the samples examined was still 3.7 percent.

Given the rapid increase in Delta cases, immunologists are calling for intensive preparation for autumn. Carsten Watzl, Secretary General of the German Society for Immunology (DGfl), explained in the “Augsburger Allgemeine”: “It can be safely assumed that the Delta variant will be the dominant variant in Germany by autumn at the latest.”

In contrast to the RKI, Watzl estimates that the proportion of the delta variant in Germany is currently over ten percent. The expert believes that if there is a further increase, it could particularly affect the younger generation: “If a large number of children are not vaccinated and the Delta variant comes in autumn, there is a risk of a stronger outbreak in schools again.”

So you have to start working on concepts like air filters now, so as not to have to close schools again in the fall. Watzl points out that the increase in the incidence figures in Great Britain can largely be traced back to school children, for some of whom there are no vaccines at all.

UK: Delta has already overtaken Alpha

The rapid increase in Great Britain shows how quickly the delta variant can become a problem. There, the delta variant significantly worsened the infection rate – despite the well-advanced vaccination campaign. In April, the first cases of this mutant were detected in England, which is said to be largely due to travelers from India.

They arrived before the British government put India on the so-called “red list” with a mandatory ten-day hotel quarantine. At the beginning of May, when the British public health authority classified the mutant as a “worrying variant”, Delta was already making around a quarter of the cases.

In mid-May this mutant overtook the alpha variant that was still dominant in Germany. Only two weeks later there were almost only delta cases. The seven-day incidence in Great Britain is currently back at around 70 – previously it was around 20 for weeks. The incidences have so increased rapidly, even though more than 57 percent of adults in Great Britain are now fully vaccinated.

Unfortunately, the delta variant is 60 percent more contagious than the alpha mutant, tweeted scientist Watzl. In addition, they can better avoid immune protection. “Therefore, after the first vaccination, the antibodies of people are hardly able to neutralize the Delta variants.” Fully vaccinated people, on the other hand, are well protected from it.

The delta variant should be taken seriously because it can be transferred more quickly, says Berlin physicist Dirk Brockmann from the Institute of Biology at Humboldt University. You have to consider that values ​​in the nationwide low percentage range mostly still go back to local outbreaks, he said on Wednesday on rbb-Inforadio. The alpha variant also started out so small, but then prevailed. In his opinion, that will also happen with the Delta mutant.

The number of cases in Germany is currently falling. “But you have to be on your radar that this variant can also prevail.” The government in Great Britain has just postponed planned easing for England and parts of Scotland, for example, by several weeks.

Immunologist Watzl, however, is confident that the delta variant will probably not lead to a new wave over the summer in Germany. But that is also due to the behavior of vacationers and returnees from abroad, he emphasized.

It is also important to fully vaccinate as many people as possible over the summer. In Scotland, the Delta variant has spread particularly among the younger generation. “Therefore, the discussion about vaccinating children and adolescents will be important.”

With a good vaccination rate of over 80 percent by autumn, Watzl is confident that Germany will get through the winter well despite the then probably dominant delta variant.



Photo: Christian Spreitz, Dominic Schaar

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