Omicron variant arrived in Europe – Austrian Virologist believes, Omicron in Austria in a week or two

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Belgium has registered a first case with the new Corona variant B.1.1.529, now got the name Omikron, first detected in southern Africa. The announcement was made by Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke at a press conference Friday. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo also announced travel restrictions for people entering the country from countries in southern Africa. Caution is needed, but not panic, Vandenbroucke said.

At the same time, Belgium is reintroducing stricter rules for private parties, in the hospitality industry and nightlife. “The situation today is worse than all the scenarios the experts had put in front of us,” De Croo said. Just over a week ago, Belgium had already introduced stricter corona measures, including a partial home-office requirement. Still, infection rates continue to skyrocket in the country of 11.5 million people. According to the latest data from the health authority Sciensano, more than 25,000 new infections per day have been reported – more than at any time since the pandemic began.

Virologist Nowotny on the new virus variant

In Austria, Virologist Norbert Nowotny expects the new Corona variant Omikron to arrive in Austria “in one or two weeks.” The reason for this is that the modified virus has already spread for some time in South Africa and may have been brought to Europe by tourists, a case in Belgium is already proven, said the expert on Friday in the ZIB night.

Increased infection likely according to Nowotny
Nowotny based his concern on the fact that more than 30 variants have accumulated in the spike protein. Increased contagion is likely, he said. “We’re already seeing this in South Africa, that there are areas with increased incidence of infection.” In terms of greater danger, nothing can be said yet, he said; the next few days and weeks will show that.

RNA vaccines easily adaptable
As for the efficacy of current vaccines, the virologist says it’s possible their effectiveness against omicron could be somewhat reduced. However, the advantage of RNA sera is that they can be adapted relatively easily and quickly, Nowotny said.

  • source: kurier.at/picture:pixabay.com
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