Cold season: Anyone coughing and sniffling next to you most likely has Corona

Cold season: Anyone coughing and sniffling next to you most likely has Corona

Whether on the train, at a birthday party or in the office: wherever you sit and listen, there are sniffles and coughs again. In Germany the number of people suffering from acute respiratory infections is increasing. And in most cases, a corona infection is responsible for this. This is based on the current one weekly report the Influenza working group Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

The RKI writes: In addition to the respiratory infections caused by cold viruses that are typical for this time of year, the activity of acute respiratory diseases is caused by the continuously increasing number of Sars-CoV-2 infections and Covid-19 diseases.

In the past week, both the activity of acute respiratory illnesses and the number of doctor visits for such illnesses increased compared to the previous week. And, this is remarkable: For the first time this autumn, the RKI recorded a higher positive rate for Sars-CoV-2 than for rhinoviruses, which have previously circulated most frequently. This means: If someone next to you coughs or sniffles, there is a very high probability that the person has a corona infection.

Doctors’ practices from all over Germany send swab samples

The information is based on data provided by the RKI from so-called Sentinel practices receives. This is a network of around 700 medical practices that regularly transmit data to the RKI. More than 100 of these practices also send the institute respiratory samples – i.e. swabs from the mouth and nose. The National Reference Center for Influenza Viruses then examines these to determine which respiratory viruses are currently circulating. According to the RKI, this sentinel monitoring covers more than one percent of primary care doctors in Germany and is therefore representative nationwide.

Such sentinel studies do have limitations in their accuracy. However, experience shows that they reflect the current infection situation well. Last week, the sentinel practices sent 171 samples to the RKI. The experts detected respiratory viruses in 88 of them. Sars-CoV-2 viruses were mainly found at 23 percent, followed by rhinoviruses at 21 percent and parainfluenza viruses at five percent. In the previous week, rhinoviruses were significantly more common at 27 percent than Sars-CoV-2 at 20 percent.

Influenza and RS viruses are also circulating, but so far at low levels. That also show Data from 15 European countries. Although RS viruses, which can be particularly dangerous to infants and older people, increased evidence has been recorded in the last seven weeks.

Broad immunity protects most

So far, writes the RKI, the increased number of corona infections has not led to a comparable increase in severe cases. This is probably mainly due to the broad immunity through vaccinations and infections, as the new RKI President Lars Schaade recently said in a statement Interview with ZEIT ONLINE said. That is also the reason why we can go into the fall more relaxed than in previous years, said Schaade. “At the moment I don’t see any situation coming up that would be even remotely comparable to previous years.” Sars-CoV-2 will no longer have a major impact on most people.

Nevertheless, the coronavirus continues to pose a danger, especially for older people or people with previous illnesses, said Schaade. “You should keep your vaccinations up to date and protect yourself from infections as best you can. For example, by avoiding events with many people in the winter months or wearing a mask on the train.” Even if Previous vaccinations reduce the likelihood of suffering from Long Covid after an infectionthere is still some risk with any infection.

If you want to protect yourself and those around you, you can test yourself and wear a mask if you have cold symptoms – even if you are no longer required to do so. And although the Standing Vaccination Commission Stiko only expressly recommends the adapted booster for older people and other risk groups, younger people are also free to get vaccinated if their doctor offers it. The vaccines adapted to the omicron variant XBB.1.5, This is what initial data shows also prepare the immune system for an infection with the EG.5 (“Eris”) variant, which is currently primarily circulating in Germany. And On Wednesday, the EU Commission approved Nuvaxovid, the first corona vaccine adapted to XBB.1.5which is not based on mRNA technology. It contains a version of the spike protein from XBB.1.5which was made in the laboratory.

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