Coronavirus in Germany: cases reach a record level

Amid its fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Germany is seeing a growing number of cases, as hospitals reach an alarming state.

The 7-day increase in new infections in Germany has reached the highest level since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. According to information provided by the Robert Koch Institut (RKI) public research institute, there are 201 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. To calculate the 7-day incidence, the recent infections from the last 7 days are added and converted to 100,000 inhabitants.

The previous record of cases was reached at the peak of the second coronavirus wave on December 22, 2020 with 197.6 per 100,000 inhabitants. Unlike a year ago, many people are now vaccinated and the infection rate is increasing mainly among the elderly who are at particular risk. Therefore, experts assume that the German healthcare system can now withstand more new infections than before.

Vaccines effectively protect against severe disease courses while reducing the need for hospitalization. In all observed new COVID-19 cases, the number of unvaccinated people is significantly higher than those who are fully vaccinated.

The growing number of infections is also part of the discussions about the next German government. After the September elections, so far no government has joined. A possible coalition of Social Democrats (SPD), Liberals (FDP) and Greens (GrĂ¼ne) presented on Monday a strategy to combat the future of the pandemic management situation in Germany.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn addresses a news conference after a meeting of health ministers of the German states in Lindau, Germany, on November 5, 2021. Health ministers of the 16 federal states of Germany hold a two-day meeting in Lindau to discuss COVID-19. pandemic. (credit: REUTERS / AYHAN UYANIK)

According to a report by the German newspaper Frankfurter general newspaper, the prospective coalition has said it wants to reintroduce free corona tests for all citizens of Germany. The country ended the government’s offer of free trials for everyone as of October 11, 2021.

“We need good joint solutions,” said Green Party parliamentary group leader Katrin Goering-Eckardt in Berlin.

Goering-Eckardt also called for efforts to vaccinate more people in Germany. To do this, additional possibilities must be created to be able to administer the vaccines. The high case rate was mainly caused by people who deliberately and actively chose not to get vaccinated. Some of them might be persuaded to get vaccinated when it comes to 2-G schemes, a system that only allows vaccinated and recovered people to enter public places.

Also, more pressure will be put on the issue of booster shots. Physicians should be required to actively inform older patients about the third injection.

Until now, the third jab has been controversially discussed by officials and public figures as a means to combat the fourth wave in Germany. A few days ago, the federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, advocated offering all citizens a booster vaccine. Hendrik Streek, director of the Institute for Virology and HIV Research at the University of Bonn Medical School, expressed his doubts. “The hope that the reinforcement is a solution against the fourth wave could be misleading,” Streeck told the Publishing network Germany.

According to Streek, the booster shot can reduce the rate of advancement in vaccination, as studies from Israel have shown. “My concern, however, is that the third shot was not responsible for the advance of the third wave in Israel,” Streek said. He noted the sharp increase in the number of cases in Israel in December 2020 and January 2021 despite the high vaccination rate. “I’m afraid this is happening again now and that it was not momentum but an as yet unknown factor that broke the wave in Israel.”

The Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament, will discuss a new Infection Protection Act at its first reading on Thursday. The goal is to decide how Germany will approach keeping infection and hospitalization rates under control in the upcoming winter season. On November 25, the special status of epidemic situation at the national level will expire.

The writer is a member of the Ernst Cramer & Teddy Kollek / Middle East Fellowships.

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