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These maps will help you understand the current state of the pandemic in Germany

Five weeks into the so-called “lockdown light” average daily cases have plateaued slightly below the 20,000 mark. But the spread of the virus varies markedly between regions, and even from town to town. We break down where the latest outbreaks have been.

These maps will help you understand the current state of the pandemic in Germany
Passau in Bavaria is one current hotspot. Photo: DPA

The first thing that is interesting to note about the virus is that, generally speaking, it has hit the south and west of the country much harder than the north since the beginning of the pandemic.

The two northernmost states, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania both have infection rates of less than 50 per 100,000 people at the moment.

Source: Robert Koch Institute

The east of Germany is an interesting anomaly. It was barely hit by the first wave back in March. But, while cases have been dropping elsewhere for several weeks, they have skyrocketed in Saxony. The eastern state now has a case weight of 330 per 100,000. This high number is putting a strain on hospitals in parts of the state.

Thuringia, Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt, which all had low case rates in the spring, have also seen infections rise during the lockdown, albeit to a lesser extent than in Saxony.

Of the city states, Hamburg has seen the biggest fall in cases since the beginning of November. They peaked at 172 per 100,000 on November 13th but have since dropped back to 96 per 100,000. But cases have also dropped off in Berlin and Bremen.

READ ALSO: Germany records 23,449 new Covid-19 cases amid call for tighter regional restrictions

In terms of the cumulative death rate, Bavaria has a considerably higher mortality in relation to its population than any other federal state, with 30.9 deaths per 100,000. 

The state with the second highest death rate is Saxony, which has had 26.6 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants since the start of the crisis.

At the bottom end of the scale in terms of deaths is Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which has had just 4.2 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. Berlin is solidly in the middle in terms of fatalities, with 16.8 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants since the start of the epidemic.

District level hotspots

On the more granular level, we can see that there are significant differences in infection rates inside the various federal states.

The current district with the largest number of cases per head of population is Passau in the south-eastern corner of Bavaria, which currently has 458 cases per 100,000. Also hard hit are the rural regions outside of Dresden and Chemnitz in southern Saxony.

Meanwhile the district with the highest case rate over all is Nuremberg, with 1,931 cases reported over the past week.

Both Passau and Nuremberg have introduced stricter lockdowns, only allowing residents to leave their homes for “essential reasons.”

The district with the lowest current caseload is Nordfriesland, right up in the northwest corner of the country. It has only had 22 positive cases in the last week and has recorded just four Covid deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Situation in hospitals

In terms of the current strain on intensive care beds, the chart below shows that the east of Bavaria and the east of Saxony are facing the greatest strain on their clinical resources.

In the Erzgebirgskreis in Saxony, just three of the district’s 80 intensive care beds are free, with close to two thirds of the beds being taken up by corona patients.

Mühldorf am Inn in Bavaria is facing a similarly tough situation in ICU with only one of its 16 beds still available. Showing just how large local differences can be, none of the ICU beds in nearby Kelheim are taken up by Covid-19 patients.

The situation is most relaxed near the Danish border, where none of the intensive care beds are taken up by Covid-19 patients.

Overall, some 5,000 intensive care beds are still available nationwide, with corona patients occupying close to 4,000 beds.

Member comments

  1. According to some doctors we know in our area in Friesland only a blood test can really indicate whether or not someone has the virus. They are highly critical of the current testing and the way the MSM are reporting it

  2. At over 13,000,000 confirmed cases and over 200,000 deaths in the States, Germany and probably any other country is doing infinitely better than us; even the so-called developing countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore are superior to us, though many here would mock them because they are still developing; the jokes on us though as it’s our hospitals that are being forced to turn patients away due to reaching capacity, or giant refrigerated trucks being used as “mobile morgues” in my home state of Texas, as bodies are piling up and the funeral homes can’t store them all.

    The States have failed miserably when dealing with corona, but hopefully the rest of the world can learn from us on how NOT to handle a pandemic, and don’t end up like we are now.

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Should Germany shorten Covid vaccine intervals to combat Delta?

A single vaccine dose has been shown to be largely ineffective against the Delta variant of Covid-19 - so German health experts are considering whether a shorter gap between the first and second dose is needed.

Should Germany shorten Covid vaccine intervals to combat Delta?
A sign directs people to the vaccination centre in Berlin's now-defunct Tegel Airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Soeren Stache

With the the proportion of Delta variant Covid cases rising in Germany, experts are currently mulling over a new strategy to combat it: shortening the intervals between the first and second dose of the vaccine.

The new approach is being considered in light of the fact that vaccinated people are likely to be protected highly infectious variant – but only if they have had all necessary doses of the vaccine. 

READ ALSO: Share of Delta variant Covid cases in Germany almost doubles in a week

“The question is not a trivial one,” Thomas Mertens, the head of the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO), told DPA.

According to the Ulm-based virologist, there are various pros and cons to shortening the gaps between doses.

“We are currently trying to secure the necessary evidence,” he added.

So far, Stiko has been recommending longer intervals between the two vaccinations than the intervals stipulated by regulators when the vaccines were approved. 

There are good reasons for this: with AstraZeneca, for example, evidence suggests that the longer you wait between vaccines, the better immunity you have.

With limited doses of vaccines available – and ongoing supply issues – there is also an argument for providing as many people as possible with the first dose, so that as many people as possible are at least partly protected against the virus.

READ ALSO: ‘Vaccinate quickly’: German states seeing surge in Delta variant Covid cases

For AstraZeneca, the previous advice from the panel of experts at Stiko is to allow twelve weeks to elapse between the first and second dose. For the mRNA vaccines – Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna – the recommended interval is six weeks.

According to the pharmaceutical regulators, however, a faster course would be possible: two BioNTech doses three weeks apart, with Moderna and AstraZeneca given four weeks apart.

In the case of the AstraZeneca vector vaccine, according to the Health Ministry, those wishing to be vaccinated are free to agree the interval individually with doctors within the permitted period of four to twelve weeks.

“A certain distance improves the effectiveness of the vaccine”

Helge Braun (CDU), Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, told the Morgenmagazin on Thursday that the government’s main challenge was to offer all over-12s at the least one dose of the vaccine by the end of summer.

READ ALSO: ‘This can be a good summer’: Half of Germans vaccinated at least once against Covid

Regarding the timing of the second dose, the main concern should be effectiveness, he said.

“We just know that a certain distance improves the effectiveness of the vaccination,” he told reporters. 

When pressed on whether shortening the intervals between doses was the advice of the hour, Braun said it wasn’t.

On Twitter, German immunologist Carsten Watzl pointed out that, while cases of Delta were rising as a proportion of infections due to falling infection rates overall, the actual number of infections with Delta was still stable – and may even be declining. 

This means that the longer, 12-week interval for AstraZeneca vaccinations could be still be used as long as people were fully vaccinated by autumn, he said. 

The virologist Christian Drosten has been pointing out for a long time that the first jab is not particularly effective against Delta. 

This is also the view of Watzl, who would like to see the majority of people fully protected in time for a potential fourth wave of the virus. 

“The second vaccination is urgently needed in order to be able to properly ward off the mutations,” he said in a recent interview with the German Press Agency.

“Shortening the current vaccination intervals, especially of BioNTech, of course makes sense in order to achieve complete inoculation as quickly as possible,” said the chief executive of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, Andreas Gassen, on Wednesday.

“The maximum vaccine interval for BioNTech is only justified by the lack of vaccines.”

In Germany, increased shares of the Delta variant, first discovered in India, are now being recorded.

However, the number of cases caused by the mutation has only increased relatively slightly so far, while the trend for infections caused by the still dominant Alpha variant is declining more sharply.

In the future, it is expected that Delta will overtake Alpha as the dominant variant of Covid-19 in Germany.