Germany's top disease control official has warned about highly infectious Coronavirus mutations which are making the COVID-19 pandemic more dangerous. During a press conference on Friday, February 5 the expert said that the virus is not 'tired yet', instead it just got a boost.
The emergence of the new variants has prompted countries around the world to impose stricter measures and created confusion regarding vaccine efficacy.
New Mutated Virus
The German expert, Lothar Wieler, who is the head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), said that according to new data analyzed from the UK, Netherlands and Denmark, the variants are not only more infectious but also found to be capable of causing more serious illness.
The variants like B.1.1.7 which was first found in the UK have a higher reproduction rate that is 0.5--compared to the normal Coronavirus strain. That is a massive number, said the expert. But if the reproduction rate goes over 1 then the virus would spread exponentially.
The expert also noted that there are three worrying virus variants that have been logged so far in Germany. Among them, the UK variant is the most widespread, comprising six percent of the cases in the country. But the number is expected to rise as the new variant is detected more and more frequently. However, as reported, the mutations have been found in 13 out of 16 German states.
Despite the emergence of new variants in the European country, infections in Germany are slowly trending downward. But Jens Spahn, the German Health Minister, cautioned that the infection rate is not dropping quickly enough. So, he asked people to maintain social distancing and adhere to lockdown restrictions.
New virus variants are also posing risk to American lives. Michael Osterholm, who is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, warned the US to brace for the spread of the virulent variant this spring.
He said that the UK variant could become dominant in the US and may hit the country like a hurricane. "The surge that is likely to occur with new variant from England is going to happen in the next six to 14 weeks," Osterholm said on Sunday.
UK Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi also said a few days ago that there are around 4,000 novel Coronavirus variants in the world that can cause COVID-19 and all the vaccine developers including Pfizer, as well as AstraZeneca, are now trying to improve the jabs.