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Why the corona numbers are rising again

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The peak of the omicron wave seemed to have passed a long time ago. But now the incidence is rising again. How can this be explained and how could I continue now?

Washingtonplatz in front of Berlin Central Station in early March © Carsten Koall/​dpa

Never in Germany have so many people been infected with the corona virus in such a short time as this year. But at least the omicron wave seemed to have peaked in mid-February: Corona numbers fell for weeks, even if they were still high. Now the trend is reversing: the incidence is rising again. And the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reports for the first time more than 250,000 new infections in a single day. How can it be?

More infections with the new variant of Omicron

The biggest reason is (once again) a new variant, which isn’t really that new. BA.2 is a subvariant of omicron, closely related to BA.1, which was initially known as omicron and has so far determined the course of the infection in Germany. Now its sister variant BA.2 is catching on.

BA.2 has been circulating in Germany since the end of last year, and in Great Britain and Denmark it has been the dominant variant for many weeks. The new variant of Omikron does not seem to be more dangerous than its relative (MedRxiv: Wolter et al., 2022). But BA.2 is probably even more contagious than BA.1 (MedRxiv: Lyngse et al., 2022). Like BA.1, vaccinated and boosted people can also be infected with BA.2, but the disease is usually mild in them. In rare cases, people who had just been infected with BA.1 also became infected with BA.2 (MedRxiv: Lyngse et al., 2022).

So it was only a matter of time before the new Omikron variant caught on. The RKI reported the first cases of BA.2 in December. Meanwhile, BA.2 probably also accounts for the majority of infections in Germany: in the week of February 21-26 it was 48.2 percent, since then the proportion should have increased even more.

The number of infections with BA.2 has also been increasing for weeks (see chart, where you can toggle between the proportion of variants and an extrapolation of the number of infections). At the same time, the overall incidence decreased because most infections could still be assigned to the fading BA.1 wave. A second hidden BA.2 wave accumulated in the background of the BA.1 wave, very similar to the previous Alpha and Delta virus variants. After all, the number of infections with the new variant is not growing as fast as it was then. At this time, a clearly exponential development is not in sight.

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