Does Corona spoil the summer? The omicron subvariant BA.5 recently brought increasing numbers to Portugal, for example. Now it is also spreading in Germany. A Jena infectiologist explains what that means.
Jena (dpa/th) - Despite the omicron subvariant BA.5, the Jena infectiologist Mathias Pletz assumes that the corona situation will be relaxed in summer. "It may well be that the incidence will increase and a new wave will come. But if we justify lockdowns with the utilization of the health system, then I personally don't see any danger at the moment," said the head of the Institute for Infectious Medicine and Hospital Hygiene at the Jena University Hospital of the Germans press agency. In Portugal and South Africa, the incidences are currently going up again - albeit accompanied by a very low number of deaths.
"In general, there are fewer severe infections in summer than in winter," Pletz continued. This is due to many factors - including the fact that people often get infected outside, where the pathogen load is lower. In summer, however, other factors also come into play, including a generally lower susceptibility to diseases or the instability of viruses to UV light and higher temperatures.
It is currently still unclear what the emergence of BA.5 is doing to the severity of the disease, Pletz said. There is currently no evidence that the infections are more severe than with variants BA.1 or BA.2. However, BA.5 appears to be more infectious than the other two variants and undermines the immunity of BA.1.
The infectiologist doesn’t think it’s a good idea to drop all precautionary measures in summer. "It would be like taking off your seat belt when driving through a 30 zone." According to a recent study, vaccination reduces the risk of long covid by around 15 percent. That's better than nothing, but it's not perfect protection either. For most people, Long Covid will pass again. "But I also have patients who have been suffering for several months."
Pletz is concerned about the possible spread of influenza in autumn - especially among younger people. In the past two winters, the flu season had almost failed worldwide. “There is a risk that many young children will experience their first influenza infection in a timely manner in the coming season – as we saw with RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) last fall. And influenza is not without risk for young children,” said Pletz . Vaccination before autumn is particularly important here. He referred to a "needle-free" vaccination in the form of a nasal spray for children.