While the Omikron BA.5 is growing in Germany, learning is also being done on the Omikron BA.2.75. Is there a great danger?
Berlin – There is almost nothing to depend on during the corona pandemic. With satisfaction speaking, change is the only credible constant since March 2020. Corona virus variants and mutations continue to pose new challenges to politics and science. It is now called the Omikron BA.5, the dominant variant in Germany, which the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) tirelessly emphasizes. In the meantime, the omicron variant BA.2.75 was also discovered in the local area. Is the new corona variant a threat? And what is known about the Omikron BA.2.75?
Omicron BA.2.75: What is known about the new Corona variant?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the omicron sub-variant BA.2.75 was first discovered in India in May 2022. In particular, it is a subgroup of the BA.2 omicron variant which, according to the RKI, was dominant in Germany until early June 2022. However, it has since been replaced by the dominant BA.5 omicron variant.
As it stands today, scientists cannot yet reliably judge how quickly the new omicron BA.2.75 subline will spread in Germany. The first infections have already been detected in the Federal Republic. Virologist Manuel Krone from the University Hospital of Würzburg points this out to the SWR. However, since only a few Omicron BA.2.75 samples have been recorded in this country, how high this proportion is can only be determined with a certain delay.
The Omikron BA.2.75 is not yet a disturbing corona variant – but caution is advised
The WHO has not yet classified Omicron BA.2.75 as a “variant of concern”. As almost all relevant data for this classification are still missing, this step cannot be taken yet. Richard Neher from Biozentrum Basel points out that there are still no laboratory experiments with Omikron BA.2.75.
In addition, only a handful of sequencing for the omicron sub-option would be available. All in all, it is far too little to make correct claims. However, omicron BA.2.75 is known to have significant mutations and therefore extensive prophylactic monitoring of the omicron BA.2 subtypes is recommended.
Omicron BA.2.75 differs enough from Omicron BA.5 that those who recover may be re-infected
The researchers say Omikron BA.2.75 has twelve more mutations than the original Omikron BA.2 line. And eight of these new mutations in the BA.2.75 omicron would be due to the spike protein. Compared to Omicron BA.5, against which those infected with BA.1 or BA.2 are not immune, BA.2.75 differs enough that those who recover may also be re-infected, according to the assessment of virologist Manuel Krone.
The same is true for those who have recovered from BA.1 or BA.2 who may still catch Omikron BA.5. Faint Expert Hope: Conventional rapid corona tests, which are no longer free, and PCR tests should detect Omikron BA.2.75.
Omikron BA.2.75: Hopefully the Corona variant will not be as popular in Germany as the Omikron BA.5
As mentioned at the beginning, the Omikron BA.5 is currently the dominant crown variant in Germany. As Omicron BA.5 is already very contagious, it is at least possible that Omicron BA.2.75 will not spread as much in Germany. At least that’s what Richard Neher sees, who also notes:
At the time of the pandemic, there were already several variants and sub-variants that circulated here for a short time but were unable to grasp and became dominant elsewhere.
An example of this is the omicron sub-variant BA.2.12.1., Which caused a corona wave in the USA. In Germany, on the other hand, it was superseded by the highly contagious omicron variant BA.5 and its possibly variable incubation period. The situation is similar with the Epsilon variant, which was in circulation in Peru but not in Germany. The same goes for the beta and gamma variants that usually circulated in Brazil.
The spread of Omicron BA.2.75 also depends on herd immunity in Germany
The question of whether the coronavirus variant will also spread in Germany ultimately also depends on the resilience of the herd population, which is often cited. Depending on which crown variants were already dominant, this is very different.
Richard Neher believes that the population in Germany, which is also characterized by a large number of patients in intensive care units, may have already built up good immunity through vaccination and infection. Probably even against Omicron BA.2.75. While this does not guarantee infection, it does protect against severe disease including long Covid or death. Hope that’s at least plausible.