Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) is blowing the same horn and justifying the tightened lockdown. According to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the mutation is said to be up to 70 percent more contagious.
How justified is the fear?
The politicians’ concern: More people could become ill and infect risk groups.
However, it is difficult to extrapolate the distribution in Germany. Because: We don’t even know how widespread B117 is. Only a few cases have been proven so far. This is mainly due to the fact that, unlike in the UK, the positive samples are not regularly screened for mutations. So far only every 900th test!
This so-called sequencing is actually not a problem. Devices and capacities are available in our laboratories. Genome sequencing of up to 3600 samples at the same time takes 72 hours and costs around 200 euros per sample. Kai te Kaat is a molecular biologist at diagnostics manufacturer Qiagen: “Sequencing is important because we learn from it what the genome of the virus is, what changes and what effects this could have on diagnostics, immunization or treatment options.”
But why has it been done so little so far? “Because no funds were made available.”
According to Prof. Dr. Christian Hesse, statistician at the University of Stuttgart, has shown a British study that B117 has a reproductive value (R value) that is at least 0.4 higher. “An increase of 0.4 would lead to a high growth rate and doubling times of 2 to 3 weeks.” Tenfold incidences are possible by Easter.