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COVID-19

Germany is seeing ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’, says Health Minister

Health Minister Jens Spahn says more than 90 percent of intensive care (ICU) patients in Germany with Covid-19 are not vaccinated - and called on people to get their shots.

Germany is seeing 'pandemic of the unvaccinated', says Health Minister
Residents in Saxony receive a free Bratwurst from the city when they get jabbed in a bid to encourage vaccinations. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

“Right now, we’re seeing a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Spahn told Welt on Wednesday. He said hospitals could become overrun in the autumn and winter months because so many people in Germany are still not vaccinated against Covid-19. 

He urged people eligible for the vaccine to get their jabs as soon as possible.

“We have fulfilled our promise,” said Spahn. “The vaccine doses are there to get us safely through autumn and winter.”

Vaccinations in Germany have plateaued in recent weeks, raising concerns that the country won’t be able to get through the cooler months unscathed. 

Just over 64 percent of people in Germany have received at least one jab and 59.2 percent are fully vaccinated. 

READ ALSO: Fourth wave – What we know about Germany’s spike in Covid cases

Spahn said the federal and state governments are discussing new benchmarks to assess the Covid situation in Germany.

As The Local reported, Spahn plans to make the number of hospital admissions the decisive factor when assessing future Covid measures – rather than the incidence rate of infections. 

READ ALSO: German Health Minister says focus must be on Covid hospital admissions when deciding factors 

He said Germany could assess the situation by comparing it to the “very heavy workload” in hospitals last winter. 

Spahn also reiterated that there would be no strict lockdown restrictions imposed on people who are vaccinated. 

“For vaccinated and recovered people, there will be no further restrictions,” said Spahn. “No curfews, no contact restrictions, no closures.” That, he said, is a very important signal.

“We are vaccinating Germany back to freedom,” said Spahn. “That’s the real message now for autumn and winter.”

Some critics have questioned if the German government’s insistence on saying there will be no tough Covid measures for vaccinated people is down to the fact that there’s a federal election on September 26th – and the Christian Democrats want to keep voters on their side.

German states on Monday brought in uniform rules for a ‘Covid health pass’ system restricting access to most public indoor spaces to those who are fully vaccinated, have recovered from Covid or to those who have tested negatively for the virus. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s 16 states bring in uniform Covid-19 rules

Member comments

  1. I wonder if the Minister is not bending the figures? This obsession with vaccination combined with completely ignoring cheap safe effective medicines is bizarre. If you cross the border into the Czech Republic Ivermectin is a recognized treatment. In India the states that use have seen a spectacular fall in mortality. Sooner or later the governments will have to accept the mounting evidence worldwide that existing medicines work, especially if taken early, and their use should be encouraged.
    Of course less money will be made all round but we might actually see an end to the Corona follies and hospitals will no longer be overrun – at least not with Covid patients. If of course Germany follows France drastically cutting intensive care bed numbers, as urged by Brussels, then they will be over run with other illnesses.

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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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