Vaccine shortage looms at the beginning of the year

Photo by Mika BaumeisterThe nationwide seven-day incidence has dropped again compared to the previous day. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) gave the value of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants and week on Wednesday morning with 353.0. By comparison, the previous day the nationwide incidence had been 375.0, and a week ago 427.

Health departments in Germany now reported 51,301 new Corona infections to the RKI within one day. This is according to figures reflecting the status of the RKI dashboard as of 05:00. Exactly one week ago, there were 69,601 infections.

Across Germany, 453 deaths were recorded within 24 hours, according to the new data. A week ago, there had been 527 deaths. The RKI counted 6,613,730 confirmed infections with Sars-CoV-2 since the start of the pandemic, but the actual total is likely to be much higher, as many infections go undetected.

The number of Corona patients admitted to hospitals per 100,000 population in a seven-day period was reported Tuesday by the RKI at 5.21 (5.17 Monday). The number of those who recovered was put at 5,559,700 on Wednesday, with 106,680 people dying from or involving a confirmed infection with Sars-CoV-2.

According to the RKI, the incidence is currently still above 1,000 in 13 counties. Accordingly, the situation has eased in Bavaria in particular. The remaining hotspots are still found in Saxony and Thuringia. The LK Börde in Saxony-Anhalt is also above the 1000 mark. Four counties in Germany are below 100. The lowest value at the state level is found in Schleswig-Holstein with 160.8.

Meanwhile, a Corona vaccine inventory has revealed a shortage for the first quarter of 2022, according to Karl Lauterbach, the federal health minister. This, he said, surprised many. "Me too," the SPD politician said Tuesday evening on ARD's Daily News. According to his own words, he is already working to eliminate the shortage. "I hope that I can convey a positive message there in the next few days." Efforts are running through all channels, including directly to companies, he said, adding that everything must be EU-compliant. "We have to gain speed here," Lauterbach said.

Asked on ZDF's "heute journal" whether the shortage was due to an oversight by Lauterbach's predecessor Jens Spahn (CDU), the chairman of the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK), Bavarian department head Klaus Holetschek (CSU), said the question now was not where what had been ordered. "Rather, the question is how we can procure even more."

The chairman of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, Andreas Gassen, spoke of a fatal signal to all those who were fighting the pandemic with full commitment. "We've just reached record levels of vaccination in practices in Germany, and here comes this news," Gassen told Bild. "There is no one to explain that too little vaccine was bought in the country where the vaccine was developed."

The government is pushing ahead with a major vaccination campaign as a key component in the pandemic response. This is due to the massive fourth wave as well as the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant. Lauterbach had announced after taking office that he would get an overview of the quantities of vaccine in stock.

An omission of extra tests for triple-vaccinated persons with access rules after the model 2G plus is to provide for additional inoculation incentives. The health ministers of the federal and state governments agreed on this measure on Tuesday evening. The facilitations are to be reviewed however at the latest after two months, as the GMK chairman Holetschek said after the discussions. In medical and nursing facilities, a test should continue to be required of those who are boostered, in order to protect the people who are particularly vulnerable there.

The German Foundation for Patient Protection welcomed this. "In this way, the virus can be stopped before it enters the facility unnoticed," executive director Eugen Brysch told the German Press Agency. Only, unfortunately, he said, the health ministers do not take responsibility for the organization on the ground. So it runs like last year. "No one there to do it," Brysch criticized.

Test facilitation for triple-vaccinated people had previously drawn criticism. Some experts considered this step premature. Lauterbach, however, justified it. "Not testing those who have been boostered makes epidemiological sense," he said even before the federal-state roundtable of health ministers. With a booster vaccination, he said, people now have only a small risk of becoming infected - and an even smaller risk of being contagious to others.

Specifically, the issue is Corona rules under the 2-G-plus model - that is, when additional testing is required for access only for those who have been vaccinated and recovered (2G). According to the latest federal-state decisions, 2 G applies to restaurants, leisure and cultural facilities, for example; 2 G-plus requirements can also be added. Holetschek explained that an exemption could take effect 15 days after booster vaccination.

Lauterbach said on ARD television that if Omicron were to gain a foothold in Germany, the decision would have to be approached again. Therefore, he said, it would be limited to two months. But for the current Delta wave, he said, there are now more incentives for booster vaccinations - and those are the most important tool to combat an Omicron wave. The booster third shot is usually to be given five to six months after a full basic immunization.



Photo by Mika Baumeister

 


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