New Corona variants BA.4 and BA.5 also in Austria

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The new Covid 19 subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 have also been detected in Austria for the first time. The city of Vienna has reported the first cases of variant BA.4 and one case of variant BA.5 to the Ministry of Health, the ministry said Wednesday. Individual cases have also been identified in Styria and Salzburg. Nationwide wastewater monitoring has revealed no evidence of the virus variants initially detected, mainly in South Africa.

New Corona variants BA.4 and BA.5 are also in Austria

According to initial assessments by experts, “the two new omicron subvariants provide slightly more contagion than the currently dominant variant BA.2,” said Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Green Party). In addition, the new variants are suspected of having a more vital immune escape. Therefore, they could escape the immune system’s defenses more efficiently and thus slow the downward trend in the number of infections. So far, there are no indications that the new variants cause more severe courses of the disease.

In Vienna, there have already been 24 detections of variant BA.4 and one detection of BA.5 in calendar week 16, between April 18 and 24. “It’s on our radar, but it’s not worrying us at the moment. These 24 cases are related as a cluster(s) through several corners, locally limited. Plus: the trend continues to decline,” wrote Mario Dujakovic, spokesman for Vienna City Councilor of Health Peter Hacker (SPÖ), on Twitter.

“We are monitoring the situation very closely. The ongoing sequencing gives us a good overview of the spread of the variants,” Rauch also said. Currently, there is no need for action, the responsible minister stated. However, the studies on the two new variants are still thin.

In South Africa – where it is currently winter – the fifth wave of infection is building up due to the Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5. These variants contain mutations, “some of which were already known from other variants, for example, Delta. And which are associated with immune escape,” said virologist Andreas Bergthaler on Wednesday in the “Ö1” morning journal.

  • Source: APA/picture: pixabay.com
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