Is Britain safe for Indians

WHO classifies B.1.617 as "very worrying" : Indian variant arrives in Berlin - new data from Great Britain

The Indian variant B.1.617 of the corona virus has now definitely arrived in Berlin. Compared to the Tagesspiegel, the Senate Department for Health, Care and Equality confirmed on Tuesday that at least twelve such cases have been known since the beginning of April.

This is only now known, since complex sequencing of the samples was necessary to detect the mutant. It is therefore likely that there will be late registrations for the last few weeks.

[If you want to have all the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic live on your mobile phone, we recommend our app, which you can download here for Apple and Android devices.]

This news reached Berlin the day after the World Health Organization (WHO) classified B.1.617 as a "worrying variant". The British health authority Public Health England had already classified a subtype of the mutant, B.1.617.2, as "worrying" on Friday due to the rapidly increasing number of cases with this variant.

[More on the topic: Indian corona doctor on the second wave: "You must never believe that you have defeated it" (T +)]

"Available information indicates an increased transferability" of the Indian variant with the designation B.1.617, said the leading WHO scientist Maria Van Kerkhove on Monday evening. According to preliminary study results, the human immune system could also react less strongly to this variant, she said.

Corona variants are divided into two categories by the WHO: “Variants under observation” (“variants of interest”), which are widespread, and “variants of concern”.

The latter are more contagious or difficult to fight, or lead to more severe disease courses. But there is still no evidence that virus tests, drugs or vaccines are less effective against the Indian variant, said Van Kerkhove. So far, the UN agency had only described the so-called British, South African and Brazilian variants as "worrying".

Hundreds of thousands are infected with the virus every day in India. Since the beginning of the pandemic, a good 22.6 million infections have been counted in the country. There are currently 520 known cases of the variant in Great Britain, up from 202 last week. Two other subtypes of the variant discovered in India - B.1.617.1. and B.1.617.3 - remain under observation in England.

Currently, the proportion of the Indian variant B.1.617.2 among the daily tests in Great Britain is more than ten percent. For comparison: the South African variant B.1.351 and the Brazilian variant P.1 account for less than one percent of the cases. That comes from official data from the British health authorities.

What causes concern: The course since the first appearance of B.1.617.2 is similar to that of the British variant B.1.1.7. This is shown by a visualization of the "Financial Times". The British variant also made up around ten percent of the cases around 40 days after it was first detected in Great Britain. Three months later, B.1.1.7 was detected in around 95 percent of the tests.

It is known in Great Britain that half of the cases with B.1.617.2 can be traced back to travelers. This was announced by the Public Health England authority. In the UK, every person entering from India is tested for the variant. SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach continues to demand the same for Germany.

It is amazing and scary how quickly the Indian variant is spreading in Great Britain. On the basis of the data available, he demands “that we must continue to monitor people arriving from long-distance journeys very consistently”. Then the chances would be good to spare yourself further mutants.

What encourages: An evaluation from Great Britain shows what positive effects vaccinations can have on severe courses, even of B.1.617. In a nursing home in London, 15 people became infected with the variant about a week after being vaccinated for the second time with the Astrazeneca vaccine. The "Guardian" reports.

[More on the topic: Berlin vaccination doctors tell from their practice: "People smoke, but don't want a vaccination with Astrazeneca" (T +)]

Although the vaccine was not yet fully effective, all 15 infected survived. According to a researcher from Oxford University, the probability that none of the residents would die of an infection would have been 1 in 800 without vaccination protection. In one out of five cases, five of those infected would have died as a result of the virus.

Since more than half of the citizens of Great Britain have already received at least one dose of vaccine and around 26 percent are even fully vaccinated, there is hope that the spread of the "worrying variant" from India will not lead to exponential growth again.

In Germany only around a third of citizens have received at least one vaccination dose and around ten percent are fully vaccinated. To what extent a spread of B.1.617 would affect Germany is currently difficult to predict.

The virus that triggered the global corona pandemic has already undergone thousands of mutations, some of which are more worrying than others. India reported the occurrence of the genome B.1.617 to the sequence database of the Global Initiative for Sharing All Influenza Data (Gisaid) for the first time in October 2020.

The country with its 1.36 billion inhabitants is currently experiencing a violent second corona wave. The health system is completely overloaded. There are repeated reports of deaths due to lack of oxygen in hospitals. Germany and other countries have meanwhile sent emergency aid. This is also due to the fact that in India only every tenth person is vaccinated at least once.

According to the WHO, the number of new infections is falling in most regions, including Europe and the Americas. However, there is still a sharp increase in South Asia and Southeast Asia. More than 5.4 million cases and almost 90,000 deaths related to the pandemic were counted worldwide last week. (with agencies)

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page