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Drosten & Co.: Ending the Pandemic with a “But”

Drosten & Co.: Ending the Pandemic with a “But”

“We are witnessing the first endemic epidemic wave with SARS-CoV-2 this winter, and in my opinion the epidemic is over,” Drosten, head of the Department of Virology at Berlin’s Charite University Hospital, told Tagesspiegel. Virologist Dorothy von Laer of the University of Medicine in Innsbruck agreed with Drosten on Tuesday in the Ö1-Mittagsjournal. The epidemic will end, von Laer said, “when a good level of immunity is built up in the population.”

The virologist said that thanks to the “widespread initial vaccination,” the fourth vaccination, which many have caught, and the many infections it has experienced, “more than 90 percent of the population” has “good immunity.” SARS-CoV-2 “ranked” where influenza is, namely among the “most serious respiratory diseases”. Like the flu, the coronavirus is also relatively dangerous, especially for older groups of people and people with weakened immune systems.

“Covid-19 is here to stay”

Austrian geneticist Ulrich Elling can also agree with Drosten’s statement that a first wave endemic with SARS-CoV-2 is now circulating. “The pandemic in that sense” is over, but Covid-19 is “here to stay,” Elling told APA. If you define a “pandemic” in such a way that the new pathogen encounters an immunologically unprepared population, then this stage of dealing with the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen is actually more or less in, according to Institute for Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) researchers working on Academy of Sciences (ÖAW).

If Drosten now speaks of an endemic epidemic, it is true because the vast majority of people who have already been exposed to the pathogen are now infected with the coronavirus. After the omicron variant caused widespread infection in Austria for about a year, and relatively recently the BA.5 sub-variant caused a wave of about 2 million people who were infected and therefore only recently recovered, “People are now suffering from widespread immune disease,” Eiling said. Base Built: This currently deals with a Settlement Wave.

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Experts: CoV is entering the endemic phase

On Monday, German virologist Christian Drosten spoke of a possible end to the coronavirus pandemic. The Ministry of Health was more conservative about ZIB.

You are more likely to find people in older age groups who have not yet had a coronavirus infection. In addition, protection from re-infection after infection lasts longer than originally thought.

Elling: “The powerful consequences of the pandemic”

However, you can now see the “strong consequences of a pandemic,” with many RS and influenza virus infections. In addition, there is some “erosion in the health system”, with staff, often depleted and weakened by the pandemic, facing a very heavy burden, and a lack of resources, especially in the field of children. In many contexts, structural problems will now become more tangible as a result of savings in the health sector.

reluctance in the Ministry of Health

The Health Ministry was cautious on Tuesday. She added that ZIP did not want to talk about ending the epidemic, but that general conditions had improved.

Shortly before Christmas, GECKO’s advisory body warned that coronavirus should not be underestimated even when it becomes a pandemic. Until then, there could be “massive disruption” that would necessitate domestic action, according to the latest report.

The situation in Austria is currently considered stable, but a combination of other infections such as the flu can cause problems for hospitals. The report goes on to say that if this trend continues, “personnel limitations” cannot be ruled out. The current wave of influenza, along with other respiratory infections, could soon lead to more patients arriving in regular and intensive care units.

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Petautschnig (ORF) on the current CoV status

Florian Petautschnig (ORF) talks about the current situation of the coronavirus pandemic in Austria and internationally.

Basically, the report states that the coronavirus will cause problems even if it is endemic, simply because there will be a higher burden of disease worldwide. In addition, Long Covid will affect the general well-being, the ability to earn a living and increase health care costs. There are two post-Covid outpatient clinics at the Vienna General Hospital, where demand for appointments remains very high – more on this in Vienna.

Watch the evolution of the variable

According to molecular biologist Elling, it is not yet possible to estimate how often people will be infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the future. It calls for maintaining a scientific view of variable development. Compared to many other procedures during a pandemic, this isn’t really that expensive – more so in Sciences.

While the coronavirus infection process has progressed to a great extent in most countries, the largest wave since the beginning of the epidemic is piling up in China after the end of the zero-virus policy. This fuels international concern that a new type of virus could spread around the world. The currently dominant variant in China is the BF.7, which is one of several sub-variants of the BA.5.

T cells also provide good protection against new variants

Instead of virus variants replacing one another — as in 2021, when Delta first displaced Alpha and was later replaced by Omicron itself — many Omicron variants now coexist. Right now, you can see that the omicron is branching out more and more into smaller and smaller spikes, which can again override the immune response, virologist von Laer told Ö1.

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Empty vaccination lane

APA/Herbert Neubauer

Vienna vaccination center: thanks to vaccination and previous infection, the majority of the population has already had contact with SARS-CoV-2

The combination of vaccination and previous infection should also protect against severe or fatal courses in new variants. Von Leyer pointed to the two arms of the immune system: antibodies, which are the first line of defense against the virus, and T cells, which render virus-infected cells harmless.

According to the virologist, the new omicron variant can bypass the antibody response and thus lead to an increase in new infections. But most people with a functioning immune system are well protected by the T-cell response. “The new variants cannot prove themselves against T cells,” says von Laer.