Wastewater analysis shows rapid spread of Omicron in Berlin

Wastewater analysis shows rapid spread of Omicron in Berlin

According to wastewater investigations, the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus has become predominant in Berlin within a very short time.

Coronavirus - Abwasseruntersuchung

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Water samples are processed in a laboratory.

Author: dpa
Further information: Coronavirus measures
Publication date: January 13, 2022
Last updated: January 13, 2022

Omicron share at around 90 percent according to wastewater analysis

After Omicron had only made up about 5 percent of Coronavirus infections in December, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) announced on Thursday that the Omicron share had risen to 90 percent about one month later. The figures are based on analyses conducted by the MDC and the Berlin Water Utilities. The previously dominant delta variant had been practically displaced.

Results from investigation as an early warning system

The findings could serve as an early warning, the statement said. They are independent of the number of Coronavirus tests and disease progression. With the daily reporting of incidence figures, it is important to in mind that some time usually passes between the infections, the onset of symptoms, the testing and the reporting of cases to the Robert Koch Institute.
The Senate's Coronavirus situation report also shows more and more Omicron cases in Berlin. According to the most recent figures for the first week of the year, Omicron made up a share of about 66 percent according to laboratory analyses. The number of new Coronavirus infections is also currently rising rapidly. Omikron is highly mutated compared to the Delta variant and spreads faster.

Findings still preliminary

MDC researchers pointed out that these are the first interim results of the study. Its method has not yet been evaluated by external experts and there are still some unanswered questions - for example, whether viral RNA is as complete in wastewater as it is in the blood of patients. Infected people excrete viral DNA with their stool.

Considerations for nationwide monitoring program

In some other cities in Germany and abroad, wastewater samples are also being tested for Coronavirus. According to the MDC, politicians are currently discussing whether a nationwide monitoring program should be set up and funded with EU: "On January 19, 2022, there is to be a hearing on this matter in the main committee of the Berlin House of Representatives - with the water companies and data from the MDC."

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