BUnwealth Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has warned against underestimating the risk of mutants of the coronavirus. “It is normal for viruses to change. It’s not necessarily that they become so much more infectious so quickly, ”said Spahn on Monday in Berlin. This particularly affects the mutants that have appeared in Great Britain and South Africa so far. In addition, there are “further worrying reports from Brazil,” said Spahn.
In order to better understand which mutants of the coronavirus are spreading in Germany, the laboratories should genetically examine significantly more samples than before. In this way, possible new, previously unknown mutations should also be discovered. Spahn wanted to sign a corresponding ordinance on Monday. It is true that individual laboratories have so far sent samples to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) or the consulting laboratory at the Berlin Charité. “That is not enough in the current situation,” said Spahn.
The new regulation provides that laboratories are obliged to sequence viruses and to report the results centrally to the RKI. For this they get 220 euros per evaluation. According to Spahn, at least five percent of all positive tests should be “genome sequenced”. The analysis of the virus will be “an integral part of the pandemic surveillance”.
According to the Association of Accredited Laboratories in Medicine, 169 laboratories nationwide evaluated more than a million corona tests in the first calendar week of the year. About 13.7 percent of these tests were positive, which equates to about 146,000 tests. According to the new regulation, at least 7,300 samples would have to be genetically evaluated, i.e. sequenced.
Spahn described dealing with the Corona mutants as “very challenging”. It is reassuring that an infection with a mutant does not lead to the disease progression of Covid-19 becoming more severe. But the increasing number of infections put the health system under increasing pressure. “If a lot more people are infected much faster, more come to the clinics for treatment and to the intensive care units,” said the Minister of Health. “More infections means more seriously and seriously ill people.”
That is why further contact reductions are so important. “We are still a long way from where we need to be. That’s why the numbers have to go further down. ”On Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the state ministers will discuss possible tightening of the corona measures. On Monday morning, Spahn said in the ARD “Morgenmagazin” that a tightening of the rules was by no means certain. It is about a further reduction in contact in private and in the world of work. It should be decided whether it is primarily about new rules or once again to sharpen people’s awareness.