Germany amid claims that the pandemic is over and concerns about a new corona wave in the winter. What are the facts?
Berghain, Berlin’s most famous dance temple, is open again. According to reports, there was a mixture of music and ecstasy inside. Social Democrat health expert Karl Lauterbach, known for his often-warning words about the pandemic, welcomed the move. Opening a club for healed and vaccinated people is a “big deal”. There will probably also be people infected with the Corona virus. “But those who are vaccinated will not get so sick. That is why it can be endangered. “
Does this mean that Germany is close to overcoming the pandemic? Jens Spahn, still the health minister in the outgoing federal government, expressed optimism at a news conference: “The pandemic situation is such that we currently have no problems with it.”
This is what most Germans seem to think. A poll by the opinion research institute Infratest Dimap found that only 42 per cent of respondents were concerned about a further increase in the number of those infected, which is much less than in the summer, when 62 per cent of respondents feared the possibility of an increase in pandemic figures.
The new wave is stopped
When we look at the figures, it is clear that Germany has successfully stopped the fourth wave of the pandemic, which in the summer seemed necessary. The incidence of infections within seven days is somewhere around 60 per 100,000 inhabitants. While the number of infected has stopped. The figures are higher than in the same period in 2020, but the situation is completely under control.
But the incidence of weekly figures is no longer the only standard of measurement. The federal and state governments have agreed to use the so-called hospitalization rate as a result of Corona virus infections. That number is currently less than 1.6 hospitalized per 100,000 inhabitants within a week – which experts say is in the green. The situation in intensive care units is also under control – the percentage of Covid patients in intensive care units is almost everywhere at the single-digit percentage level.
But the virus is still active and dangerous. The map of the Robert Koch Institute shows that many regions and cities are still marked in red, which means that the weekly infection rates per 100,000 inhabitants are more than 100.
Politics remains prudent
“It’s still very difficult to say where we are at the moment with the pandemic, which we can assume will last two to four years worldwide,” said Berit Lange of the Helmholtz Infection Research Center. interview for DW. “What we do know is that in Germany we still do not have enough immunity of the population to completely avoid the new outbreaks that plague hospitals.”
According to official figures, the rate of fully vaccinated persons is currently around 65 percent. The vaccination rate in people over 60, who are particularly at risk, is almost 85 percent. While in young people much lower. The Robert Koch Institute says the vaccination rate could be five percentage points higher because many vaccinations have not been reported to the Institute. Authorities say the evidence may be lower than the number of people vaccinated.
Now the cold season begins and life is developing more and more indoors. This increases the risk of infections. Politics knows this “but”… After the message that the situation is more or less under control, Minister Spahn immediately sent a warning: The vaccination quota will not be enough for a safe autumn-winter. “We should not walk too fast, but step by step. “So we do not need to go back.”
A “Freedom-Day” like the one in the UK, in which all measures will end, is currently not on the horizon in Germany. Epidemiologist Lange does not think this is important: “The question of whether someone will schedule such a day is purely political. “The question of whether such a thing really has sustainability is epidemiological.” This is because when the rate of infections rises again, then the health system faces the situation, while politicians have no choice but to restore safeguards.
In focus: Students and the unvaccinated
The policy is currently focused on two groups – students and unvaccinated persons. Pupils under the age of 12 are facing the pandemic every day, and they number over nine million in Germany. Most infected people meanwhile belong to this group. But doctors say so far there have been only a few cases of serious diseases of children. Virologist Jana Schroeder warns in an interview with DW that even children have often ended up in hospitals because of Corona.
For the best protection, hygiene rules, testing and quarantine orders are still in force, which may vary from country to country, but also from school to school. A common point of contention is currently the wearing of masks in schools. The Robert Koch Institute says masks should be worn, while many pediatricians are of the opposite opinion. Some states have already removed the requirement for masks or have limited the necessity of keeping them. There are no instructions for all schools and counties.
Pressure from those who have not been vaccinated
The other policy focus group is that of persons who have not been vaccinated. It is estimated that about three million people over the age of 60 have not yet been vaccinated. There is no compulsory vaccination, but the pressure on these people is increasing. Many restaurants, hairdressers or at concerts and other events require proof of vaccination, cure or testing (3G). Restaurants are even allowed to request (2G), which means that only vaccinated or cured can be allowed in restaurants.
All this can increase the pressure on people who have not been vaccinated, because in the meantime the tests from October 11 are paid, for people who do not want to be vaccinated. A test should now cost around 25 euros.
The other tightening has to do with quarantine rules. Until November 1, payments in Germany for quarantine time will be removed for persons who have not been vaccinated. The goal is to increase the number of vaccinated and to achieve “herd immunization” ./ DW /
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