More than half of the coronavirus cases in the UK can now be traced back to the Indian variant B.1.617.2. According to Health Secretary Hancock, this may be the case in as many as three-quarters of cases. Previously, variant B.1.1.7 was prevalent in Great Britain, as it is currently the case in Germany. The position report from the Robert Koch Institute indicates that there are indications of increased convertibility for the 617 variant. Virologist Christian Drosten of Berlin Charité described in the coronavirus update of the NDR report that the growth rate of B.1.617.2 is perhaps twice that of B.1.1.7 . However, British developments did not necessarily mean that something similar was imminent for Germany.
Professor Roland Cao of the University of Edinburgh cautions that the high proportion of the Indian variant in the incidence rate in Britain should be interpreted carefully. The high percentage of cases can be explained, at least in part, by the low number of cases. Recently, the infection rate in Great Britain has increased slightly, but has only reached the 25th level. “Even small outbreaks can cause a very high incidence,” explains Cao.
The variant is also unevenly distributed in the UK, which speaks to the impact of a local outbreak. It is especially prevalent in the areas around London and Manchester. According to Drosten, this may indicate that the virus mainly occurs upon entry of many people from India. In order not to overestimate the contagion of a variant, the effect of returning travelers is taken into account in the statistics on the risk of contracting the virus. However, it is not clear to what extent the differentiated evaluation is always successful in the subsequent infection.
The need for tougher measures cannot be expected in Germany
In many early-affected groups, the rate of transmission was generally higher, according to Kao – for example, because many people live in a household or work in occupations that are difficult to adhere to with distance measures. In Germany, too, the Coronavirus does not affect all groups of the population equally.
Despite the high rate of vaccination in Great Britain, workers in particular were still partially immunized or had only received a single dose, Kao describes. However, complete protection from grafting is especially important to contain B.1.617.2. The current data show that fully immunized subjects are adequately protected against asymptomatic infection with B.1.617.2 as with the previous variants. However, according to the Public Health Authority of England (PHE), anyone who received a single dose of the vaccine was likely to be at a higher risk than previous variants..
In this country as well, variant 617 is increasing the incidence rate, but according to the current RKI case report, it is still 2.2 percent. The 90 percent of the infection rate in Germany can still be traced back to the B.1.1.7 variable. The task now is to monitor whether local outbreaks of the B.1.617.2 variant still exist in Great Britain, or whether the virus is spreading through society. Tighter measures are not expected to be necessary in Germany: entry from India and England is already harder, and the best protection against variant B.1.617.2 should be the second vaccinations, which will take place in Germany in the next few weeks anyway.