Mutation is a threat to COVID-19 containment efforts – Merkel

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Germans should take a new variant of the coronavirus believed to spread much faster very seriously or else risk a third wave of infections, Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a news conference on Thursday.

“The mutation of the virus is a threat,” said Merkel. “The mutation is much more infectious than we knew last year and this makes it more difficult to control the pandemic. I urge people to take this seriously. Otherwise it is difficult to prevent a third wave.”

The newly developed coronavirus vaccines can be relatively quickly adapted to protect people from new variants of the virus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reassured.

“Winter will be hard, but vaccines show a way out of the pandemic,” Merkel added.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 20,398 to 2,088,400, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday. The reported death toll rose by 1,013 to 49,783, the tally showed.

Merkel also added that a discussion about joint production of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V can happen if the vaccine is approved by the European Medical Agency (EMA).

Merkel said Germany’s vaccines regulator, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, could offer Russia guidance on EMA’s approval process for Sputnik V.

Russia’s sovereign wealth fund has filed for registration of Sputnik V in the European Union and expects it to be reviewed in February, the official account promoting the COVID-19 vaccine tweeted on Wednesday.

Main Photo: German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) arrives to a press conference at the Federal Press Conference (Bundespressekonferenz) in Berlin, Germany, 21 January 2021. EPA-EFE/HAYOUNG JEON

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