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VACCINE

Bremen becomes first German state to give Covid jab to more than a fifth of residents

There's good news for the northern German city-state of Bremen - it's become the first in the country to vaccinate more than 20 percent of its population with one dose.

Bremen becomes first German state to give Covid jab to more than a fifth of residents
Bremen harbour. Photo: DPA

It means around a fifth of all Bremen residents – that’s around 20.1 percent or 137,000 people – have received at least one jab in the inoculation campaign. Nationwide, the figure is 16.9 percent.

The northern city-state of Bremen, which has around 569,350 people, is the top performing state when it comes to vaccinations in Germany.

The vaccination dashboard shows a map and the percentage of residents who have received at least one dose. Saarland follows closely behind Bremen, after giving around 19.3 percent of people at least one jab.

READ ALSO: ‘I finally might be able to go home’: What it’s like to be offered the Covid vaccine in Germany

Bremen has fully vaccinated around 6.4 percent of the population. When it comes to residents who’ve received both doses, Thuringia is at the top of the list with 7.5 percent.

About 6.2 percent of the population in Germany is fully inoculated.

So how is Bremen doing it?

According to authorities there, a team effort combined with carrying out vaccinations seven days a week is contributing to the speed of the rollout.

Bremen’s mayor Andreas Bovenschulte, of the Social Democrats (SPD), said that a “likely unprecedented alliance” made up of the Senate, aid organisations and the private sector had been set up for the vaccination centre in Bremen.

“This is unique in Germany,” said Bovenschulte. “We vaccinate seven days a week, even on holidays.” 

Bovenschulte said the city could even give out more injections if even more doses were delivered. 

Bremen has “administered well over 90 percent of the vaccine supplied to us,” said health senator Claudia Bernhard (Left Party).

Germany has lagged behind several other countries including the UK and the US due in part to EU-wide supply issues, regional bureaucratic hurdles and problems with AstraZeneca.

But the country has been gradually picking up speed as vaccines supplies get delivered, and more GPs start vaccinating.

More than 656,000 shots were administered last Wednesday – a record daily amount. And that was followed on Thursday with 719,927 shots – another record. On Tuesday April 13th, around 530,500 shots were administered in Germany.

It is hoped that Johnson & Johnson’s delay to the rollout of its single-dose vaccine in Europe, which came about after US officials urged for a pause on administering the jab on Tuesday, doesn’t cause major problems for EU countries.

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COVID-19

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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