Omicron BA.4 has reached Austria

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Austria is probably the first European country to have had a significant transmission of BA.4.

At the latest, another Corona wave will sweep over Austria and Europe in autumn. Experts, physicians, and virologists agree on this.

Austria will be prepared, as Health Minister Johannes Rauch has repeatedly stated – most recently via Twitter. He said preparations were already underway for the fall and that various scenarios were being played out, depending on which variant of the virus would prevail. The strategy of the Minister of Health is briefly summarized: Testing, vaccination, measures, therapies, communication.

In the middle of last week, a group of experts – including complexity researcher Peter Klimek, Thomas Czypionka from the Institute for Advanced Studies, Federal Rescue Commander of the Austrian Red Cross, Gerry Foitik or virologist Andreas Bergthaler – called for intensive preparations for the colder season now. “By far, the biggest unknowns in the preview are the epidemiological characteristics of the expected variants,” the paper titled “Covid-19: Scenarios for autumn/winter 2022 – and beyond” states.

“No expert can currently say which variant we will get in the fall,” intensive care physician Stefan Kluge of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf also said in mid-April. German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned of a possible “killer variant” of the coronavirus in the fall. “It is quite possible that we will get a highly contagious omicron variant as deadly as Delta. That would be an absolute killer variant.”

Omicron sublines
Recently, several Omicron sublines have become the focus of public attention: on the one hand, a subtype called XE – according to the WHO, a mixed variant of BA.1 and BA.2, a so-called recombinant.

On the other hand, the two sublines BA.4 and BA.5 are intensively monitored. Both are classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a cause for concern. The two variants are not directly derived from BA.1 and BA.2 but share a common omicron ancestor.

BA.4 and BA.5 are currently causing the fifth wave in South Africa. The country is experiencing an exponential increase in these new sublineages. BA.4 already causes 35 percent of infections in South Africa.

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