Coronavirus pandemic: Merkel warns of virus mutations


Chancellor Merkel assumes that vaccinations will soon be faster. At the same time, it warns urgently about the new mutations in the virus. CSU boss Söder is therefore already calling for further measures.

Chancellor Angela Merkel firmly expects a faster pace of vaccination against the coronavirus. “It’s a slow start. A few hundred thousand are vaccinated, and there are more every day. The pace will pick up,” said the CDU politician in her video podcast. “We will have enough vaccine available for everyone in Germany. We will be able to offer more people every month and ultimately anyone who wants it.”

At the same time, Merkel defended the joint European procurement of the vaccine. “I am firmly convinced that it was good to go on the European path. A virus that hits us all cannot be defeated by any country alone. No country, including Germany, would be safe from the virus if its friends and neighbors wouldn’t. “

Concerned about virus mutations

Merkel once again called for patience and understanding for the ongoing restrictions. “Where the virus spreads extremely, with an incidence of over 200, the range of motion of each individual is even restricted. That is tough, but I am convinced that it is absolutely necessary.”

The coming weeks are arguably the hardest of the pandemic. “Doctors and nursing staff work on the verge of being overwhelmed in many hospitals,” she says. “Even what we hear about mutations in the virus does not make worries any less – on the contrary,” said the Chancellor.

Scientists are calling for better research into the pathogen

According to experts, the development of the two coronavirus variants, which were initially detected in Great Britain and South Africa, makes it clear that monitoring of the pathogen urgently needs to be expanded. The variants are to be seen as a “wake-up call”, said Andreas Bergthaler from the CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The detection systems would have to be expanded and coordinated. “We mustn’t think with the false certainty that we have already reached the end of the marathon with the vaccines.”

Richard Neher from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel said it would be desirable to have a global network of laboratories similar to that used for the flu, the pathogen of which is also constantly changing. So far, such a coordinated approach is still a long way off. In Great Britain, the virus genotype is deciphered in around 5 percent of the samples taken in corona tests, in Denmark it is 12 percent, according to Bergthaler. In Germany, before variant B.1.1.7 appeared, it was only about 0.2 percent.

Virologist: Corona fatigue is a problem

It is not yet clear how much more contagious the variants are, said Isabella Eckerle from the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Geneva. The fact that Great Britain has not succeeded in significantly reducing the infection rate even with lockdown measures, however, raises concerns for other countries in B.1.1.7 Arges: “If it prevails, we would have a problem.” The virus forms that have been circulating up to now have already shown that measures are often less effective than hoped – also because many people have become more tired of corona and are acting less cautiously than in the spring of last year.

The chief virologist at Heidelberg University Hospital, Hans-Georg Kräusslich, expects the tightened lockdown to continue beyond the end of January. He thinks it is “extremely unlikely that the restrictions will be largely or completely lifted at the end of January,” said Kräusslich of the “Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung”.

No quick relaxation in sight

“If we look back on last year, the number of infections declined significantly in late April and May, and we had a relatively relaxed situation in the summer. That should also happen this year, even if we haven’t had enough vaccinations.” Broadly based vaccinations would ideally be achieved in summer. “But the hope of seeing a clear decline before March or April – I’m very, very skeptical about that,” stressed Kräusslich.

Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder is already calling for further measures. “We have to extend the lockdown that we now have, deepen it in some places,” said the CSU boss at the New Year’s reception of the CDU in North Rhine-Westphalia. It is not serious to say at the moment that it will all be over in February. The pandemic will “keep the country busy for months”. Above all, Söder warned of the risk that virus mutations could spread. These were rampant not only in Great Britain and Ireland, but now also in the Netherlands.

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Coronavirus pandemic Merkel warns virus mutations


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