How should the new “Eris” and “Pirola” variants be evaluated, and has Sars-CoV-2 become a typical disease? Here’s what the experts say.
“Even though we have largely put the Corona pandemic behind us, the virus will continue to occupy us,” Health Minister Johannes Rauch stressed in early September. Indeed, COVID-19 infections are expected to rise again this fall. Two new variants are on the health authorities’ radar. What does this mean, and how dangerous are “Eris” and “Pirola”? Here are the most important answers for the Corona fall:
Are the new variants “Eris” and “Pirola” dangerous?
So far, there is no evidence that they are. The “Eris” variant (EG.5.1) has been spreading worldwide since July, coming from Asia. In August, the first cases were detected in Austria. In the meantime, the omicron derivative, classified as a “variant of interest” by the WHO, is said to dominate the infection incidence. However, “Pirola” (BA.2.86) is also said to have arrived in this country. However, there is no clear evidence for this so far. Its many mutations in the spike protein caused excitement among experts initially. However, virologist Dorothee von Laer expects a less dramatic wave in the fall than in previous years.
The National Immunization Panel (NIG) recommends only one vaccination – especially for high-risk people and people over 60. But everyone else can get vaccinated anytime or get a booster for the upcoming winter. If the last bite was more than 12 months ago, virologist Monika Redlberger-Fritz, a member of the National Vaccination Panel, also recommends a booster. Vaccination is free of charge for all people living in Austria. It does not protect against infection, but against a severe course.
Are measures threatening again?
Due to the country’s rapid increase in “parole” cases, Israel has reintroduced mandatory testing in hospitals. This is not an issue in Austria now – just like keeping a distance or making masks compulsory. People are relying on their responsibility. Both virologist Norbert Nowotny and molecular biologist Ulrich Elling recommend precautions for oneself, including wearing a mask on public transport. Those who are contagious should stay home. “Duties are always difficult. However, it is useful to educate the population and empower them to act on their responsibilities. Even the Minister of Health says he will wear a mask again when the infection worsens because it works!” Elling.
Would the measures be enforceable at all?
Ludwig could not rule out a return to mandatory mask use; he said: “You don’t wish it. But one will have to react if it should be necessary”, said the city boss. The decisive factor here is, above all, the overloading of the health care system. He said that as long as this is guaranteed, there will also be no measures.
Has COVID become a typical disease?
Since July 1, 2023, a coronavirus infection is no longer a notifiable disease in Austria. Since then, COVID-19 has been treated like all non-notifiable infectious diseases and transferred to the regular system. “Corona is simply a viral respiratory infection anymore, which in terms of severity can be classified between flu-like infection and real flu – or similar to real flu,” Nowotny says. We would have to live with that in the future.
Should I stay home if I have symptoms, or am I COVID-positive?
Anyone ill should stay at home because they will also be unable to perform, says Hans-Peter Hutter, a public health expert at MedUni Vienna. However, due to a Corona infection, this is now only possible with a doctor’s sick note. Anyone with a sore throat and a cold could consider wearing a mask to protect those at risk or staying in the home office if possible.
- source: heute.at/picture: pixabay.com
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