It has been clear for days: people in Hesse have also been infected with the changed corona virus, most recently in a Limburg retirement home. But certainty often takes weeks.
Those responsible at the St. Georg retirement home in Limburg were already puzzled in mid-December. An unusually high number of people became infected with the coronavirus during this time, including a person who had actually already survived the disease. It was suspected that a mutated variant of the virus was rampant in the facility.
So some samples were sent to the laboratory of the university clinic in Frankfurt, as the old people’s home announced on HR request. There the suspicion was confirmed in three samples. The question of whether it is the mutation initially identified in Great Britain or possibly the one from South Africa will probably not be answered until the end of January. To do this, the samples have to be examined in another laboratory in the Berlin Charité. It was a “complex sequencing”, it was said to justify. And that can be better carried out in the capital despite the actual conditions in Frankfurt.
New regulation for more examinations
An organizational effort that costs time. That should look for a new nationwide Ordinance from this week now change. It says more labs should check virus samples for mutations. The Frankfurt virologist Martin Stürmer criticizes: The government recognized too late how important it is to examine the mutations more frequently and more precisely.
This so-called sequence analysis is very important in order to get an overview of the different virus forms: “The virus continues to mutate and we have to ensure that virus forms do not develop and spread that become immune to the vaccinations,” the expert tells the hr .
However, he believes that this analysis sometimes takes several weeks, as in the Limburg case: “This is because the sequence analysis is much more time-consuming than the usual Corona PCR tests. It is quicker to perform than within a week hardly possible on average. “
Frankfurt virologist warns of further mutations
The Hessian Ministry of Social Affairs hopes that the new test regulation will soon enable more and faster tests. That would be important in order to be able to react better to new mutations. Even if the corona variants discovered so far, according to everything that is known so far, are not more deadly: There is much to suggest that they are more contagious and spread faster.
The Frankfurt virologist Stürmer explains it like this: “If the virus wants to get into the cells of our body, it needs some kind of key to get in. With the original Corona variant, which jumped from animals to humans, the key creaks a little in the lock and doesn’t always fit. When mutated, the key adapts better to the lock, so the virus can get into the cells better and we can become infected more quickly.
What this can look like in reality has been shown in the affected Limburg retirement home. Residents have been in quarantine there since the intense outbreak. Hopefully, you will not have to wait long for the virus mutation to be determined.
Broadcast: hr-fernsehen, hessenschau, January 18, 2021, 7.30 p.m.