In Germany, a new subvariant of the Coronavirus is spreading. BQ.1.1, or ‘Hellhound’, is more contagious than the version which has been dominant in the past months. It easily infects people with antibodies, but vaccinations help prevent severe disease progression.
Berlin, November 19th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — For the first time in many months, a new subvariant of the Coronavirus is about to become its dominant version in Germany and other parts of Europe. It is known as BQ.1.1 or ‘Cerberus’ (‘Hellhound’). According to the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, its share was 8 percent the week before last.
The ‘Hellhound’ seems to have quadrupled its share in the Federal Republic within four weeks. If it continues at this pace, it will be the dominant Corona variant in January, or possibly even earlier. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), BQ.1.1 could cause another big Corona wave in both North America and Europe before the month of November is over.
BQ.1.1 derives from the Coronavirus’ Omicron strain. It is said to be more contagious than its predecessor BA.05. Also it might be more resistant to vaccinations and antibodies people get from earlier infections, meaning the risk of infection with the ‘Hellhound’ might generally be higher. At the same time, the latest vaccines against the Omicron variant probably decrease the risk of severe disease progression in this case as well.
In the meantime, Corona has become the reason for a new argument in Berlin. Friedrich Merz, the chairman of the Christian-Democratic Union (CDU), accused Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, a Social Democrat (SPD) of alarmism which he did not share. Lauterbach replied by saying there was no reason for sounding the alarm right now, but the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions needed to be protected. For a Christian party, this should be self-evident, the Minister added.
In Germany, the number of Corona-related deaths is still high. Since yesterday, 203 COVID-19 patients lost their lives. The total number of people who have died of Corona in Germany since the virus reached Europe in early 2020 is 156,613. At the same time, the number of new infections per day seems to be decreasing. Since Friday, 25,328 of them were confirmed.
Fewer Corona patients have to be treated in intensive care these days. Their number just dropped below 1,000 for the first time in weeks. On November 1st, some three weeks ago, 1,584 Corona patients were in German ICUs. Now, there are 934.