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Bavarian Minister of Health visited the Gene Center

Oliver Keppler and colleagues informed about the Bay-VOC network to monitor SARS-CoV-2


Bavaria wants to further expand the early warning system against corona for the fall and winter. This will also intensify the work in the Bavarian network Bay-VOC. Bay-VOC is a joint project of the "Landesamt für Gesundheit und Lebensmittelsicherheit (LGL)" and six Virology Institutes at Universities in Bavaria and the Gene Center Munich. Oliver Keppler and colleagues informed the Bavarian Minister of Health, Klaus Holetschek, about the Bay-VOC network to monitor SARS-CoV-2 in respiratory swabs and sewage to establish an early warning system for changes in the pandemic.

holetschek_gc1"A broadly based early warning system enables us to forecast the development of infection events even better and, above all, to detect the spread of virus variants of concern more quickly," said Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek at a press event at the Bay-VOC center at the LMU Gene Center. "With the network, the emergence of the delta variant in April 2021 and the omicron variant in November 2021 could be detected early."

Professor Oliver T. Keppler, director of the Max von Pettenkofer Institute and spokesperson of the Bay-VOC collaborative project, adds, "Building on this, central studies on COVID-19 immunity could also be rapidly implemented by the Bay-VOC partners with high international visibility."

holetschek_gc2In the future, Bay-VOC's database will be expanded significantly - with data from a network of selected physician practices monitoring the spread of respiratory infections, as well as from wastewater monitoring, which health officials at ten sites so far are already using to try to detect pandemic dynamics early. Sequencing data from the major labs will also be incorporated into Bay-VOC in the future.

"Furthermore," says LMU virologist Keppler, "surveillance for influenza viruses will also be intensified, as we also expect an increased incidence of infection for this pathogen in the coming fall. In the future, the established structures can enable a multi-layered early warning system for a variety of infectious agents and thus support specific risk assessments for public health."