The residents of the care home near Osnabrück, near the Dutch border, all tested positive for the B.1.1.7. variant of the coronavirus after receiving two jabs with the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccination in January.
None of the elderly people have had serious symptoms, however, which could indicate that the vaccination has effectively protected them from serious illness caused by the new strain.
On Monday BioNTech released data that showed its jab was also effective against the British and South African variants of the virus, which are more infectious.
Nevertheless, Eugen Brysch, from the German Foundation for Patient Protection, called on the government to increase testing in care homes where residents have been vaccinated in order to better understand what risk the new strains of the virus pose there.
“It is becoming increasingly apparent that vaccinated people are not immune to the coronavirus and can pass it on,” Brysch said. “But vaccination can still be helpful in preventing an outbreak of the disease. This doesn't have to be a scary scenario – we will have to live with the virus.”
The cases were discovered on Friday after one of the carers’ rapid test results turned up positive. All of the residents and staff were tested and 14 residents were found to be positive.
“At least as far as vaccination is concerned, there is little to worry about after this news over the weekend,” commented Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung science writer Joachim Müller-Jung.
Jung pointed out that BioNTech had never claimed that its vaccination, which is based on imitating the virus’ RNA, prevents infections.
“The mRNA vaccination protects effectively against the Covid-19 disease, but whether and to what extent it can also prevent infection and transmission of the virus remains unclear,” wrote Jung.