The latest omikron variants of the coronavirus appear to be responsible for 7 percent of the infections in Amsterdam. In a random sample, 13 of the 181 analyzed tests contained the so-called BA.4 and BA.5 variant, the Amsterdam UMC and the GGD Amsterdam report. That is still little in an absolute sense, but it is a “strong increase”, says professor of infectious diseases Chantal Bleeker-Rovers of Radboudumc on Twitter.
A week ago, one test in the sample contained the BA.4 or BA.5 variant. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) previously announced that the new variant had appeared in the Netherlands. At the time, the variant did not seem to have spread further in the Netherlands. The other analyzed tests in the samples indicated the BA.2 variant, the omikron variant that is currently dominant in the Netherlands.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the variant does not appear to be more pathogenic or contagious than the current omikron variant. The BA.4 and BA.5 variants have been previously identified by the WHO in Germany, Denmark and southern Africa. Due to the changes in the genetic material of the variants, it is possible that BA.4 and BA.5 can break through the immune system more easily, despite the fact that someone may have been vaccinated or previously infected with the coronavirus. The RIVM is still investigating this.
The figures appeared on the Twitter account of the partnership ARGOS, which stands for Amsterdam Regional Genomic Epidemiology and Outbreak Surveillance. These are positive results from corona tests that were done at the GGD Amsterdam. The GGD region covers Amsterdam, Amstelveen, Uithoorn, Aalsmeer, Diemen and Ouder-Amstel.
Due to the adjusted test advice, only healthcare employees, vulnerable people or people who need a recovery certificate are currently taking a test at the GGD. The latter group are often people who are unvaccinated or unboosted. The sample therefore does not say everything about the distribution of the BA.4 and BA.5 variant in Amsterdam. In previous variants, Amsterdam was often ahead of the rest of the country, and the sample was an indicator for the course of the variant.