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Using a car metaphor, Drosten explains how the vaccinations are slowing down Omicron

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Using a car metaphor, Drosten explains how the vaccinations are slowing down Omicron


Virologist Christian Drosten described it as a “difficult double message”: Vaccination breakthroughs are currently occurring more frequently in Germany. This means that vaccinated people are also infected with the corona virus – especially with the omicron variant. In public, however, this fact is misrepresented, partly intentionally and partly out of ignorance. “As if it had now become completely pointless to get vaccinated,” said Drosten on Friday at the federal press conference and emphasized: “That’s not it.” To clear up this misunderstanding, he used a metaphor: man was with two cars “on a dirt road full of mud”. Both cars have the same horsepower, but one drives faster because of its wider tires. In this image, the cars represent Corona variants and the muddy sand road represents the Corona vaccinations. The car with the wider tires is Omicron, the other an earlier variant.

Drosten on vaccinations: “The sandy road slows down every car, the vaccination slows down every virus”

But what exactly did Drosten mean by that? The Charité virologist explained above all why and how the vaccinations also work against omicrons – and why vaccination breakthroughs can occur. “The sandy road slows down every car, vaccination slows down every virus,” he said. The immunity of the population is therefore something of an impassable terrain for the corona virus. But with wider tires, the car can fight its way through the dirt road – just like Omicron, thanks to its mutations, can in some cases also fight its way through the body’s defenses built up by vaccination or recovery. After all, Omikron is an immune escape variant. These can partially escape the immune system. That doesn’t mean the vaccines are worthless, however. “With the vaccination, we’re putting more and more mud on this sandy road – until the car gets stuck at some point, then it can no longer spread,” said Drosten. It is true that no herd immunity will be achieved with the corona virus because the virus will continue to fight its way through mutations – just like the car with wider tires. However, eventually the endemic state will be reached. According to Drosten, this will be the case in Germany by the end of the year at the latest. Or you are “practically there” by then.

Drosten: Vaccination gaps in Germany are problematic

According to Drosten, there is at least one piece of good news regarding Omikron: The Omikron car does not have a larger engine, so it is no more dangerous than previous variants. But in Germany, Omikron could prove to be dangerous, especially in view of the large vaccination gap with a good three million unvaccinated over 60-year-olds – especially since almost nine million people in this age group have not yet received a booster vaccination. It is now known that this age group in particular needs the third vaccination for better protection against omicron.


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