As it became known in the evening, two people in the home of returnees from the Choaz region also tested positive for the coronavirus. According to virologist Dorothee von Laer, more than 95 percent of this is the Omikron variant. Von Laer “under no circumstances” recommends waiting with a booster vaccination – more on this in tirol.ORF.at.
In the afternoon, two suspected cases were known from Upper Austria. These are also people who entered from South Africa or Namibia – more on this in ooe.ORF.at.
Also suspected cases in Salzburg
A laboratory in Salzburg later reported a suspected case. The positive sample comes from a person from Vienna who flew home from South Africa on Friday. The man appears to have taken a PCR test at his second home on Test Street. So the sample was evaluated in Salzburg and showed anomalies – more on this in salzburg.ORF.at.
The Vorarlberg authorities suspect that a positive antigen test for a returnee from South Africa, also had a positive PCR test. It is now being checked whether the mutation is in fact – more on this in vorarlberg.ORF.at.
There are no symptoms in the case of Tyrol
The Tyrolean authorities announced the suspected case on Saturday evening. The infection affects a person who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 after a trip to South Africa and is currently asymptomatic. She added, Saturday, that the person in question was vaccinated twice, but the second vaccination was already about nine months ago. According to Elmar Rizzoli, head of the Tyrolean task force against coronavirus, all contacts were immediately separated – more on this at tirol.ORF.at.
Tyrol State requires all people who have returned from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini in the past 14 days to take a PCR test. This should be repeated on the fifth and tenth day after admission. So far 31 people have answered. “In addition to the positive result mentioned above, there is already a negative test result for 20 people, and tests are currently underway for 11 people,” she added.
‘Everything gurgles’ can detect the mutation
It is possible that the alternative Omikron has already arrived in Vienna, Vienna City Health Councilor Peter Hacker (SPÖ) suspects. Because one can assume that it is indeed found throughout Europe. The city council stressed that it is absolutely necessary to clarify that the third vaccination is also of particular importance. But one is not surprised by a boom.
The company Lifebrain, which mainly carries out PCR tests “Everything!” “Today or tomorrow at the latest we can start,” a company spokesperson said Monday from the APA. According to Hacker’s office, the corresponding reagents had only been available from a specialized manufacturer since Saturday and were “immediately ordered.”
Von Laer: There are probably no more difficult courses
The Omikron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been making headlines around the world for days. According to the World Health Organization, it is working with technical partners to assess the effects of the alternative on existing countermeasures such as vaccines. It remains unclear whether B.1.1.529 is more easily transmitted than other CoV variants or whether the disease is developing more severely.
According to some quite alarming assessments by colleagues, von Laer, head of the department of virology at the Medical University of Innsbruck, was somewhat reluctant. It considers it highly unlikely that the Omikron variant will cause more difficult gradients than the delta variant. “This would be quite unusual, because higher pathogenicity does not result in virus selection advantage,” von Leer said, explaining her statement to the APA.
Compare with the beta version
“It can override the immune system, better than Delta, I think the probability is relatively high,” von Laer said. She suspects the variant is much more contagious than Delta, and thinks it’s “extremely unlikely” to make people sicker. So the most negative characteristic is that vaccinated and mature people are less protected. In any case, von Leer said, people who receive the booster vaccinations are the best protected.
It recommends “under no circumstances” to wait until introduction of an Omicron-enhanced vaccine with a booster vaccination. In an interview with the American Psychological Association (APA), von Leer said that the modified vaccine might have to be used for “refreshing information.”
The fact that the boom is currently spreading in South Africa says “nothing at first”. There were a few cases in the area before, and the security measures weren’t particularly good either: “We saw something similar once in the beta, the South African version. It had a brief outbreak in Tyrol, but then it ran out of steam.”
Scientists: Clarify open questions
In general, the takeaway for scientists is that it takes a week or two to determine what properties a variable actually has. The first results could be from South Africa that it may be more contagious but cause a milder progression due to the situation in South Africa – there, young people were particularly affected by the omicron variant.
With more and more cases emerging in Europe, it seems to be becoming clear that the variant has been circulating at least a little longer and not only came to Europe this past weekend.
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