Delta variant continues to gain ground in Austria

According to current data from AGES, the proportion of Corona infections with the delta variant in Austria is already 43 percent. Most cases were detected in Vienna.

The so-called delta variant of the coronavirus, which was first detected in the Indian state of Maharashtra, continues to advance in Austria. Meanwhile, about 43 percent of the 2,190 sequenced samples in calendar week 28 are responsible for this mutation. This is shown by the latest variant report of the Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES). This amounts to 942 cases Austria-wide in the period from July 12 to 18.

Most Delta cases discovered in Vienna, followed by Lower Austria and Tyrol
In the federal capital, 1,374 cases have been detected since the delta mutation was discovered. This means that cases in Vienna already account for more than 51 percent of the total number of detected delta cases (a total of 2,692 cases so far in Austria). For this reason, Vienna is taking a more cautious approach to tomorrow’s opening steps – omitting the mask in stores – and allowing the obligation to wear mouth-nose protection to continue. According to information from the city’s medical crisis team, the share of the delta variant in Vienna’s infection incidence remains at about 60 percent.

After Vienna, Lower Austria has the most confirmed cases of the delta variant, with 297. Tyrol registered 219 cases, Upper Austria 203, Styria 176, Salzburg 149, Vorarlberg 125, Carinthia 97 and Burgenland 52 cases of the mutation.

New monitoring system for mutations in use
As of April 2021, AGES has been commissioned by the Ministry of Health to implement a surveillance system (sentinel system) for emerging and existing mutations of SARS-CoV-2. This surveillance system will provide an overview of the mutations or variants currently occurring in Austria.

In the last month of June, a total of 380 samples were sent in from nine provinces or from Vienna Airport. Of the current variants of concern, the British mutation Alpha or B.1.1.7 (339 samples), the South African mutation Beta or B.1.351 (1 sample), the Brazilian mutation Gamma or P.1 (6 samples) and the Indian mutation Delta or B.1.617.2 (3 samples) were detected. These variants are more transmissible and have become the predominant SARS-CoV-2 type in some regions of the world.

One laboratory in each state has been selected and designated as a sentinel laboratory: Each of these laboratories sends the first ten positive SARS-CoV-2 reserve samples per week to AGES. In addition, a tenth laboratory has been appointed to send in positive samples from visitors to Vienna Airport only. At AGES, the viral RNA is isolated and subsequently subjected to whole genome sequencing at the Research Center for Molecular Medicine (CeMM) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

The samples from the surveillance system are not necessarily samples that are already specifically suspected of having a particular mutation, but rather randomly selected samples that have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Since the samples come from all provinces, an overview of the virus variants circulating in Austria is possible, according to AGES.

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