A new corona subline is causing speculation despite the currently low seven-day incidence.
Could the next virus wave be rolling towards us soon?
Berlin – Now it has officially arrived in Germany: The Corona subline XBB.1.16, known under the name "Arcturus", has so far only rarely been documented in this country.
But in the period from January 30th to March 12th, 2023, six pieces of evidence were sent, as the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reports in its weekly report on the corona virus.
It should be borne in mind that in Germany only comparatively few samples are examined for the different corona variants.
Reports from India in particular have caused a stir in the past few days, as the institute further reports: "In India, a growing proportion of this subline has recently been seen, parallel to an increase in the Covid 19 incidence there," wrote the RKI - a possible one Indication of an increased risk of spread by Arcturus.
Corona subtype Arcturus arrived in Germany
In the past few weeks, Arcturus has also been detected in other countries, according to the RKI.
The subline is characterized by three additional corona mutations in the so-called spike protein.
However, the RKI did not initially comment on a possible influence on the severity of the disease or a rapid spread of the virus.
Experts warn against panic, because there is still hardly any reliable data.
Arcturus is a Corona subline of the omicron recombinants XBB.1, which are now dominant in Germany.
For Germany, the RKI expects the proportion of XBB.1 sublines to continue to increase in the coming weeks.
For the subline XBB.1.5, which is currently predominant in this country, there is currently no evidence of an increased disease severity or infection rate.
New corona variant "Arcturus" has probably also arrived in Germany.
© Christian Ohde/Imago
Corona subline Arcturus detected in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg
According to virologist Hendrik Streeck, the new Arcturus subline, which was registered in both Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, "will not be a game changer".
There will be no new pandemic.
However, it is possible that there will be another corona wave.
According to the expert in the RTL
, these are to be expected in the next few years
Ulf Dittmer, virologist at the University Hospital Essen, told Focus online
about the Corona subline Arcturus
: “Unfortunately, variants can always arise that escape the immune system even better.
It is difficult to imagine whether these are also more infectious, because here the virus had already been greatly optimized over the previous variants.”
Corona dark figure: Arcturus could be widespread
However, pharmacologist Thorsten Lehr explained: Although the current numbers are lower than ever, he estimates the actual incidence to be in the four-digit range.
But how can that be?
According to the expert, the official information on corona incidences no longer reflects the course of infection.
“Corona reporting is over.
But Corona itself is not over," said the Saarbrücken pharmacy professor to the
German Press Agency (dpa)
Lehr assumes that the actual seven-day incidence in Germany is currently between 1000 and 2000.
The RKI last gave the number of reported Covid 19 cases within seven days at around 40 per 100,000 inhabitants.
“We still have a lot of infections.
They are harmless, but they exist,” says the pharmacy professor.
According to his forecast, the current corona wave will reach its peak in April and then ebb away.
"Not because of any seasonality, I don't believe in that anymore.
But because another round of epidemics is over.”
Corona has probably happened to everyone in Germany by now
Many people in Germany are currently struggling with respiratory diseases.
However, according to the RKI, corona is the trigger for only seven percent of people who go to the doctor for this reason.
Influenza and rhinoviruses play a much larger role.
What the future will bring is uncertain, said Lehr.
"It will always depend on whether there is a new variant and how long the vaccination lasts."
But with around 40 million reported infections since the pandemic began a good three years ago plus unreported cases, there is “relatively high” corona immunity nationwide.
"More or less the entire population should have had contact with the virus at some point," said the professor of clinical pharmacy.
List of rubrics: © Christian Ohde/Imago