Rapid omicron spread could make coronavirus endemic

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A discarded face mask © Roberto Pfeil / dpa

According to experts, the rapid spread of the omicron variant could make the corona virus endemic.

Berlin – While a pandemic spreads across countries and continents, diseases or pathogens that occur permanently and frequently in a limited region or in parts of the population are called endemic. There can be seasonal fluctuations, a classic example of which is malaria.

In the case of Sars-Cov-2, going endemic means the virus stays – people have to live with it, but it becomes less dangerous for the general population. The virologist Christian Drosten described the omicron variant as “a post-infection virus” and basically “the perfect first endemic virus”. Because omicron spreads quickly, but obviously causes less serious diseases.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also justified the fact that most corona restrictions have been lifted in England since Thursday by saying that the virus is “becoming endemic”. According to the government, the easing was made possible primarily by a successful booster vaccination campaign. According to the latest figures, 64 percent of the population over the age of 12 have received a third dose. This saved the state health service NHS from collapsing despite the large number of new infections every day.

Germany is not as far on the way to an endemic situation as other countries. Because a broad vaccination protection is considered an important step in the endemic, and in this country there are still clear gaps. The virus closes these immunity gaps by infecting both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated.

In an endemic situation, immunity is then boosted by recurring exposure to the virus. In a transitional period, however, it may be necessary to continue to give booster vaccinations, at least to high-risk patients, for years to come. In the future, Sars-Cov-2, like other known corona viruses, could also cause harmless colds in the end.



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