Germany assesses reliability of antibody tests for Omicron – Minister | The powerful 790 KFGO
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany will study the reliability of rapid antigenic tests to detect the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of COVID-19, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Sunday.
“We don’t know exactly how well these tests work for Omicron,” Lauterbach told public broadcaster ARD, adding that the results of the assessment would be available in the coming weeks.
It was clear, however, that “the alternative of not testing at all … would be far too dangerous,” said Lauterbach, scientist and physician.
Earlier, he told a Sunday newspaper that Germany needed to revamp its COVID-19 vaccination strategy to tackle the Omicron variant and ensure it can quickly develop a new vaccine if it is faced with a variant of coronavirus that is more deadly in the future. New measures for dining and drinking were only introduced last Friday.
Omicron now accounts for 44% of coronavirus infections in Germany, said the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for Infectious Diseases.
On Sunday, RKI recorded 36,552 newly reported corona infections within 24 hours, three times the number a week earlier.
The lower house of parliament in the Bundestag will soon discuss a bill for a general immunization mandate that is supported by business and the public sector, but has been delayed due to uncertainty over united support within the tripartite coalition government.
Lauterbach, of the Social Democratic Party, strongly advocates compulsory vaccinations and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann of the libertarian FDP in an interview with the Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag also urged parliament to vote on the matter quickly.
However, the parliamentary leader of the Green Party, Britta Hasselmann, said in an interview with the Funke media group that parties should first discuss the issue internally.
“It is not an easy decision, it involves deep intervention,” she said.
(Report by Alexander Ratz and Vera Eckert, edited by Susan Fenton)