Corona subvariants BA.4/BA.5: expert expects spread to occur

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The prevalence of the omicron BA.4/BA.5 subvariants in new Covid 19 infections was eight percent last week, according to the Ministry of Health.

The trend is upward, yet the BA.2 omicron variant remains predictably more prevalent, he said. According to virologist Andreas Bergthaler, however, this is likely to change in Germany. Internationally, strong growth rates of up to 15 percent of BA.4/BA.5 variant infections per day are observed.

BA.4 and BA.5, in turn, are subvariants of BA.2. “They are also likely to become established in Austria in the medium term,” says the researcher from the Medical University of Vienna and the Research Center for Molecular Medicine (CeMM) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW). Despite few genetic differences between BA.4 and BA.5, he said there is evidence that BA.5 has what it takes to become more widespread.

Austrian data currently show that BA.4/BA.5 infections are increasing in the background. International epidemiological studies indicate infection growth rates of ten to 15 percent. Over a week, this would roughly correspond to a doubling of total cases with these subvariants. According to Bergthaler, “The data in Austria are more in the direction of a doubling in twelve days.”

These differences could be explained, among other things, by differently expired omicron waves. For example, protection against renewed infections with BA.4/BA.5 is higher in places where many people had undergone infections with their quasi-predecessor called BA.2 months before. “Probably BA.1 infection is less protective,” Bergthaler said.

Corona traffic light: low risk of disease throughout Austria
It is difficult to predict whether Austria is now heading for a summer wave suspected in some places with the new subvariants. The number of people who lose their immune protection in June or July may also play a role. In addition, PCR testing is now much less common in this country, making it difficult to compare past waves with future developments, the virologist emphasized.

  • source k.at/picture: pixabay.com
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