Great Britain

Germany could face 100,000 daily Covid cases despite vaccine if lockdown lifted too early, expert warns

GERMANY could face 100,000 daily Covid cases despite the vaccine rollout if lockdown is lifted too early, a virus expert has warned.

Top German virologist Christian Drosten cautioned that the UK mutant strain of Covid could cause a summer spike in cases across the country - even with vaccinations.

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In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, Drosten warned it would be dangerous for Germany to lift restrictions too early while the vaccine is still being administered.

He cautioned that “we absolutely have to manage not to fly off the track".

Drosten believes the mutant variant found in the UK means German case numbers have to be pushed down as far as possible now to prevent a jump in transmissions in the spring.

He told the magazine: "It would be absolutely desirable to at least aim for zero now.”

A new Oxford study found the UK mutation is up to 35 per cent infectious. 

Commenting on the findings, Drosten said: "This is unfortunately more dangerous than if it had become more deadly, because each new infected person will thus infect more people, and each of these people will in turn infect more people.

"So the number of infected people will grow exponentially.”

If cases are not suppressed now, the top scientist warned cases could soar in the spring and summer. 

He said: "When the elderly and perhaps some of the at-risk groups will have been vaccinated, there will be huge economic, social, political and perhaps legal pressure to end the coronavirus measures.” 

If this happens, Drosten says “then we would no longer have case numbers of 20,000 or 30,000, but in the worst case: 100,000 per day”.

In this scenario, younger people are more likely to catch the virus. 

He added: “If a lot of young people get infected, the intensive care units will be full again.

“And there are still many deaths. It's just that it hits younger people."

The scientist also doesn’t assume numbers will naturally drop as the temperature climbs, asserting: "The fact that we had such a relaxed summer in 2020 probably had to do with the fact that our case numbers stayed below a critical threshold in the spring. 

“But that is no longer the case now."

But the virologist believes there is cause for some hope. 

Germany still has a "unique opportunity" to prevent the spread of this variant in Germany or at least to slow it down considerably, he said.

On Wednesday the German government tightened lockdown measures, requiring employers to allow staff to work from home if possible. 

The news comes as more than 50,000 people have died of Covid in Germany since the start of the pandemic. 

The number of reported deaths is now averaging 1,000 a day with a record 1,244 deaths reported on January 14. 

According to the Robert Koch Institute another 17,862 cases were reported today - roughly 4,000 less than a week ago. 

That means 2,106,262 people have tested positive for Covid in Germany since the start of the pandemic - although the real number of cases is likely to be far higher. 

Over 1.4million Germans have now received the vaccination in Germany. 

Parts of Germany were struggling to cope with the rising number of Covid deaths this week, as images emerged of coffins marked with "corona" stacked on top of each other in the only crematorium in Meissen, east Germany.

The town of Meissen has experienced one of the highest coronavirus rates in Germany.

Health minister Jens Spahn warned the country’s lockdown could last into March as cases continue to mount.

Mr Spahn said Germany’s tough measures were needed to stop a “considerable worsening” of the current situation - despite the recent fall in cases in Germany. 

He cited the mutations found in England, South Africa and Brazil as being one reason behind the lockdown decisions. 

Mr Spahn said: “The numbers are still too high, and what we need is to collectively use the intensified measures, despite the many hardships they bring with them, to continue to suppress the numbers … so that this virus is controllable.”

Germany discovers ANOTHER mutant Covid strain different to UK and South African variants

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