German virologist Christian Drosten argues in an interview with the Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Friday that there are reasons for “cautious optimism” about the pandemic, pointing to the situation in South Africa and Great Britain.
Drosten cites medical data from South Africa where Omikron – a particularly contagious variant of the coronavirus – originally spread.
– In South Africa, there are already signs that the pandemic is being replaced by endemia. Unfortunately, we are still far from that in Germany, says Drosten.
Moving from a pandemic to an endemic situation means that the virus will continue to spread, but in an less dangerous form comparable to typical common cold viruses.
“The situation in the UK with Omikron is also good as the number of seriously ill appears to be lower,” says Drosten, noting that restrictions in Germany will have to be maintained “possibly until Easter”. Experts predict that the peak of the Omikron wave in Germany will not come until January.
The situation is different in China, where 1.4 billion people have been vaccinated, but – the Chinese vaccine seems to be insufficient in the fight against Omicron, and the uncontrolled course of the epidemic may have serious consequences for the global economy – emphasizes Drosten. – Because Omikron will of course also reach China – explains the expert.
When it comes to the effectiveness of Chinese vaccines, a study conducted at two Hong Kong universities found that – even three doses of the Chinese active ingredient Coronavac did not produce enough antibodies to protect against Omikron infection, the expert recalls.
The “zero covid” strategy adopted by the Chinese government since the beginning of the pandemic is based on traditional methods: early detection, tracking, isolation, mass testing. Individuals’ vaccination status does not play any role in the rules.