Covid resurgence likely to hit Germany in October, warns top virologist

Covid resurgence likely to hit Germany in October, warns top virologist
A sign in a bar in Braunschweig saying entry is only for vaccinated and recovered people. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte
Covid infections in Germany have recently been falling. But experts are warning that the winter wave fuelled by the more transmissible Delta variant has not yet hit.

German virologist Christian Drosten believes the relatively calm Covid-19 situation in Germany will not last because not enough people have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

He said that in eastern German states – where the vaccination rates are lower – the 7-day incidence of infections is already picking up speed again. That shows what could happen elsewhere soon, he added. 

“I think there is now an indication of the autumn and winter wave that we will probably see again in October,” the scientist from Berlin’s Charité hospital said Tuesday evening on the Coronavirus Update podcast on NDR-Info.

He said that Germany experienced a similar rise in Covid cases last year. At that time, he said, it was clear in the second half of October “that we were going back into an exponential increase”. 

Germany saw a rise in Covid cases this summer, sparking fears that hospitals would be overburdened particularly with unvaccinated people. 

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Drosten said this rise in the incidence was due in particular to testing at schools after the end of the summer vacations and imported cases from abroad after travel – and was not yet necessarily the start of the winter wave.

READ ALSO: What’s behind the falling Covid cases in Germany?

‘Numbers look bad’

On Wednesday Germany reported 11,780 Covid cases within 24 hours and 67 deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 61 cases per 100,000 people, up from 60.3 the day before.

Although hospital admissions have grown since the start of August, this has now reached a plateau phase. 

Around 64 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. But health experts say that is not enough to get through winter unscathed.

On Tuesday the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) released data that showed 74.7 percent of people aged 18 and older in Germany are fully jabbed., while, 33.2 percent of those aged 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated. 

Overall health experts and politicians want to see at least 75 percent of the 12-59 year olds jabbed, and 90 percent of over-60s immunised to prevent another Covid wave hitting the country hard and filling up hospital beds. 

Drosten said Germany’s vaccination progress wasn’t good enough. “The numbers look bad,” he said, adding that neighbouring Denmark is in a much better position than Germany.

Closing the vaccination gap must be the goal, Drosten said, adding that it was a political task to convince people who are hesitant about vaccines. 

Drosten did point to reports that suggested more people in this country may already have been vaccinated than has so far been recorded in the system. That’s a “nice hope” at the moment, but should not be the basis for decisions and planning, he said. 


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