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COVID-19 VACCINES

EXPLAINED: What does super-spreader event at German ‘2G’ party tell us about vaccine-only rules?

Over eighty people have been infected with the coronavirus after attending a party in the German town of Münster that was only for people who have immunity. What does this tell us?

EXPLAINED: What does super-spreader event at German '2G' party tell us about vaccine-only rules?
A 2G club night in Berlin. Photo: dpa | Sophia Kembowski

On Friday evening two weeks ago 380 young people danced the night away after a long week of work and study in a club in Münster.

Most of them were in their early or mid-20s – and all of them had said at the door that they were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or had recovered from an infection. In other words, they were abiding by the so-called ‘2G rule’, which was a prerequisite for entry.

Nevertheless, it turned out to be a party night with consequences.

The city of Münster initially reported 26 infections after the party, but that number kept rising and by Friday stood at 85 guests plus one employee of the club.

On the other hand only mild or no symptoms have been reported so far.

So, does this ‘super-spreader event’ show that 2G is no better than 3G (which also allows tested people to enter venues) in the fight against the pandemic?

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Is it possible that 2G is not about protecting people after all, but about putting pressure on the unvaccinated – as critics suspect?

SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach disagrees. “Does this speak against 2G? No, clearly it speaks in favour. Without 2G, many more partygoers would have fallen seriously ill,” he recently said.

A party with several hundred guests – hardly any space, loud music, maybe even loud sing-alongs – all that creates an ideal environment for an infectious aerosol, Bernd Salzberger, chairman of the German Society for Infectiology, told DPA.

The party night in Münster was therefore a “special situation,” he said.

It can be concluded that party nights in clubs or discos cannot be infection-free even with 2G, Salzberger said – perhaps unlike in restaurants, where guests can keep more distance.

If only one or two of the guests have recently become infected, infections are possible even in vaccinated and recovered people, especially with the particularly contagious delta variant of the disease. In the case of delta infections, vaccine protection decreases and the probability of a so-called vaccination breakthrough increases significantly.

The city has ruled out that guests provided false information at the door. So far no offences have been found, said the city press office.

That the virus was able to spread so rapidly also cannot be due to a lack of proper ventilation. According to the maintenance company, the club’s ventilation system even exceed the requirements.

However, none of the participants became seriously ill. Vaccination therefore also protects against severe courses of disease in places where infection cannot be prevented.

The question of creating safety via 2G rules is particularly contentious in Germany.

Numerous states such as Hesse, Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg and Saxony have announced 2G requirements for indoor events. But these rules face possible defeat in court the restrictions on freedom for non-vaccinated people cannot be justified by a clear benefit for public health.

Member comments

  1. This should be proof of the 2G rule. Everybody infected has mild or no symptoms, plus as has been said this gives them even more protection for going onwards. Unvaccinated in the same situation could become seriously ill, so must vaccinated people not be allowed to get back to normal life just because of people who refuse to be vaccinated? I say no. If the refusics also want to party, they should ask their local clubs to hold Unvaccinated nights, then they can all hang out together. 😉

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Are people who’ve had the single J&J jab no longer fully vaccinated in Germany?

Germany's federal vaccine agency says that people who've had one dose of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine should no longer be classed as being fully vaccinated.

People queue for a vaccination in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt.
People queue for a vaccination in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

People who’ve had J&J, sometimes known as Janssen, used to have full vaccination status after a single dose of the vaccine. 

Since January 15th, however, a single dose of J&J should no longer count as full vaccination, according to the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), the country’s vaccine authority. 

In autumn last year the German government began recommending a second mRNA jab for people who’d had J&J – which many people thought was the booster vaccination. 

However, according to the PEI’s update on proof of vaccination within the Covid Protective Measures Exemption Ordinance and the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance, the second shot is needed to complete ‘basic immunisation’.

It is unclear at this stage if it means that people returning or coming to Germany from abroad with only one shot of J&J will be counted as partially vaccinated and therefore need to present tests or face other forms of barriers to entry. 

We are also looking into what this means for the various health pass rules in states, such as the 3G rules for transport. 

The Deutsches Ärzteblatt, a German-language medical magazine, said: “Special rules according to which one dose was recognised as a complete vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are no longer applicable.”

The Local has contacted the German Health Ministry for clarification on what this means for those affected. 

According to the latest government figures, 5.3 million doses of Johnson & Johnson have been given out in Germany so far in the vaccination campaign. 

The news will come as a shock to those who don’t know that they need another jab, or haven’t got round to getting their second vaccine yet. 

All other jabs – such as BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca – already require two jabs. 

People in Germany are seen as fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose. 

What about boosters?

As The Local Germany has been reporting, the German government said in December that people who’ve had J&J need a third shot three months after their second dose to be considered boosted.

A German Health Ministry spokesman told us last week that due to more vaccination breakthrough infections affecting people who’ve had the J&J vaccine, extra protection was needed.

“Therefore, after completion of the basic immunisation as recommended by STIKO, i.e. after administration of two vaccine doses (preferably 1x J&J + 1x mRNA), following the current recommendation of the STIKO, a further booster vaccination can subsequently be administered with a minimum interval of a further three months, as with the other approved Covid-19 vaccines,” the Health Ministry spokesman said. 

However, there has been much confusion on this front because some states have been accepting J&J and another shot as being boosted, while others haven’t.

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It is unclear if the new regulation will mean that states will all have to only accept J&J and two shots as being boosted. 

North Rhine-Westphalia, for instance, updated its regulations on January 16th and now requires that people who’ve had J&J and one shot have another jab to be boosted. 

Having a booster shot in Germany means that you do not have to take a Covid-19 test if you’re entering a venue, such as a restaurant or cafe, under the 2G-plus rules.

The Paul Ehrlich Institute said that proof of complete vaccination protection against Covid takes into account “the current state of medical science”. 

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