What’s the big picture?
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on Wednesday morning reported 52,826 infections within 24 hours – the highest number since the start of the pandemic. This number corresponds roughly to the population of the city of Passau in Bavaria or Wetzlar in Hesse.
In that same time period, there were 294 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence rose to 319 Covid infections per 100,000 people in seven days.
German health authorities tend to report the highest number of cases midweek on Wednesday and Thursdays due to reporting patterns.
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What’s the situation like in hospitals?
The number of patients with Covid-19 admitted to hospitals per 100,000 residents within seven days is the most important factor for a possible tightening of Covid restrictions in Germany.
In the RKI’s latest daily report published on Tuesday, the hospitalisation incidence was 4.86 – up from 4.65 on Monday.
The previous maximum incidence was around 15.5 at Christmas time last year.
However, many clinics across Germany – particularly in Bavaria – are struggling with the amount of patients in intensive care units.
Hospitals are also having to postpone operations.
Are there differences in the infection rate between the unvaccinated and vaccinated?
Data from several German states shows a much higher proportion of new infections among the unvaccinated.
Although unvaccinated people are being tested more frequently for Covid-19 than vaccinated people, the data gives a rough idea of the different incidences based on vaccination status.
In the Covid hotspot Saxony, for instance, where the rate of fully vaccinated people is currently the lowest nationwide at less than 60 percent, there is a huge gap between the two groups.
While the incidence of the vaccinated was around 62 cases per 100,000 people within seven days on Tuesday, this number was around 28 times higher for the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated with 1,823 cases per 100,000 residents.
The 7-day incidence in Saxony for both groups was 759 cases per 100,000 residents. It’s shown in the graph below posted by German data journalist Olaf Gersemann.
insgesamt: 759 (+5 ggü Vortag)
nicht vollständig geimpft: 1823 (+44)
— Olaf Gersemann (@OlafGersemann) November 16, 2021
In Bremen, the federal state with the highest vaccination rate in Germany (79.3 percent), there was also a discrepancy between the groups, although not as large as in Saxony. In the first week of November, the incidence among the unvaccinated in Bremen was just under 261 and among the vaccinated it was 41.
These figures are “somewhat distorted”, said Carsten Watzl, secretary general of the German Society for Immunology, referring to factors like testing frequency.
Unvaccinated people in Germany are being tested more due to 3G rules (which means access is only for people who are vaccinated, have recovered from Covid or are tested) in places like restaurants or at the workplace.
Young schoolchildren who are not eligible for vaccination are also regularly tested for Covid-19.
However, these factors do not explain the difference entirely, Watzl told DPA.
“Therefore, it is still true that unvaccinated people are getting infected significantly more often than vaccinated people,” he said.
Unvaccinated people more likely to be in hospital
Watzl also referred to Covid patients in hospitals.
Doctors in Germany have been saying for several months that the majority of patients being admitted to intensive care units are not vaccinated against Covid-19.
According to the most recent data available from the RKI, six times as many unvaccinated 18- to 59-year-olds per 100,000 people were hospitalised from October 18th to 24th (calendar week 42) because of Covid-19 than vaccinated people in this age group.
Among people aged 60 and over, the hospitalisation rate of the unvaccinated was 4.7 times higher.
Experts have repeatedly said that vaccination does not provide 100 percent protection, so it cannot completely prevent infections or severe courses of disease in vaccinated people, but it does significantly reduce the likelihood of both.
For that reason health experts and politicians have been urging people to get their jabs against Covid.