Story By: Georgina Jadikovska, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
British COVID strain B117, a mutation of the novel coronavirus considered more serious than before, is reportedly spreading in Germany at an alarming rate.
Cases of the B117 variant appear mostly in the western part of Germany in cities close to the Dutch border.
Despite receiving two shots of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine on 25th January, 14 elderly people at the St. Mary’s House care home in the municipality of Belm in the German city of Osnabrueck tested positive on 2nd February.
However, none of them showed serious symptoms, which could indicate that the vaccination has effectively protected them from serious illness caused by the new strain.
St. Mary’s House is currently closed to the public and all employees and their families are quarantined, regardless of receiving negative test results. They are only allowed to leave their homes in order to commute to work.
German virologists from the University of Erlangen assume that a person can still get infected with the virus after being vaccinated, but the symptoms would not be so severe.
Virologist Bernhard Fleckenstein offered another possibility, saying: “The PCR test can still be positive for up to six weeks after infection. It is therefore quite possible that the residents were infected before the vaccination.”
Eugen Brysch, from the German Foundation for Patient Protection, called on the government to increase testing in care homes where residents have been vaccinated to better understand what risk the new strains of the virus poses there.
Brysch said: “It is becoming increasingly apparent that vaccinated people are not immune to the coronavirus and can pass it on.
“But vaccination can still be helpful in preventing an outbreak of the disease. This doesn’t have to be a scary scenario, we will have to live with the virus.”
Additionally, a homeless person also tested positive for the new strain in the city of Dusseldorf on 5th February, according to local media.
The man was immediately quarantined along with 17 people who were in close contact with him, five of whom later also tested positive.
The city tested people in 15 other facilities for homeless people during the weekend.
In four of these facilities, 89 tests were carried out on Friday evening, and only one other person tested positive, but it is still unknown if they also carried the British strain.
On Sunday, another 83 people were tested in 11 facilities, with all tests coming out negative.
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