The fourth wave in the Corona pandemic continues to gain momentum, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), primarily through infections among young adults. However, it is increasingly spreading to middle-aged groups as well, according to the latest RKI weekly report released Thursday evening.For example, the seven-day incidence among registered infections among 15- to 34-year-olds on Thursday was 115 per 100,000 residents, almost twice as high as in the general population (66). Among 35- to 50-year-olds, it ranked as high as 75. The elderly and very old, on the other hand, who are at the highest risk for severe Covid 19 courses, are usually already vaccinated. Incidence rates do not rise above 17 cases per 100,000 population after age 60.
The positive rate among about 680,500 PCR tests in the 33rd calendar week from mid-August increased significantly: At nearly 8 percent (7.88), it was about five times higher than a month ago (1.63 percent).In contrast, the percentage of vaccinated people increased slowly compared to the previous week. As of Aug. 25 data, nearly 65 percent of German citizens had been vaccinated at least once and nearly 60 percent had been fully vaccinated. A week earlier, those rates were about 64 percent for first-time vaccinations and 58 percent for second-time vaccinations.A total of 12,626 new Corona infections were reported in Germany within 24 hours. As the RKI announced on Thursday morning, 21 people died in connection with the virus. A week ago, 8400 new cases and 22 deaths had been reported.
The total number of recorded Corona infections in Germany since the beginning of the pandemic increased to 3,901,799, according to RKI data, the deaths to a total of 92,082. The seven-day incidence is 66, the previous day the value was still at 61.3. No data were transmitted from Hamburg for Thursday, according to RKI, so the actual numbers are likely to be even higher.
The previous value of 50 in the seven-day incidence, which is still mentioned in the Infection Protection Act as a threshold for stricter measures, is to be deleted according to plans of the federal government. According to plans of the Federal Ministry of Health, regional clinic occupancy with corona patients will in the future be the main yardstick for triggering countermeasures such as daily restrictions. Department head Jens Spahn (CDU) told the Editorial Network Company: "Decisions must then be made by the states. They also keep an eye on all other pandemic criteria and can thus best assess the situation in their region."
Specifically, according to a wording proposal by the ministry for the coalition factions, the "hospitalization incidence" is to be used in particular - i.e. the number of corona patients admitted for treatment per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days. The threshold value at which countermeasures take effect is to be set "in each case taking into account the regional inpatient care capacities with the aim of avoiding a threatening overload of regional inpatient care." The dynamics of infection and the number of vaccinated persons could also be included, for example.
The background to this is that the number of new infections (incidence), previously used as the main indicator, no longer has such a direct impact on the hospital load in view of the progress of vaccination. Spahn told RND, "Incidence has had its day. To assess the pandemic situation, the hospitalization rate is much more meaningful." It shows whether the pandemic is still becoming dangerous despite a high vaccination rate.
Physicians have argued against a focus on hospital occupancy in the fight against the Corona pandemic. "We are back to exponential growth in infections and also serious illness. More and more young people are ending up in the hospital because they have not been vaccinated or have not taken it seriously enough so far," Christian Karagiannidis, president of the German Society for Internal Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, told the newspaper Rheinische Post. "The signal that comes from dropping the incidence value of 50 is critical. Of course, the meaning has changed, but we should by no means abandon the incidence value. A triad of incidences, hospital cases and intensive care bed occupancy is important."
"Just as we have been saying for weeks that incidence cannot be the sole indicator, the same now applies to hospitalization," Gerald Gaß, head of the German Hospital Association, told Editorial Network Company. It is necessary to qualitatively consider different indicators next to each other in order to get a real picture of the infection and danger situation in the health care system. For example, in addition to incidence and hospitalization, the vaccination rate and the dynamics of the respective parameters would also have to be taken into account. "There is no lucky formula where the one number comes out that comprehensively explains the pandemic."
Meanwhile, the Bundestag on Wednesday evening extended the "epidemic situation of national scope" for another three months for the time being. In favor of the motion for extension introduced by the coalition, 325 MPs voted. Against it voted 253 parliamentarians, five abstained. The special situation will thus apply for the time being until the end of November. Without renewed parliamentary confirmation, it will expire after three months. Among other things, state ordinances on measures such as mandatory masks or contact restrictions are based on the established situation. The federal government can also issue certain ordinances, such as on vaccine procurement, without the approval of the Bundesrat.
Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) said, "Unfortunately, the pandemic is not over yet." The point was that the states and local authorities needed a legal basis for measures such as wearing masks on buses and trains as long as there was still such a high number of unvaccinated people. The goal remains to further avoid overburdening the health care system, he said. To get safely through the fourth Corona wave, a higher vaccination rate is still needed. Spahn again called on previously hesitant people to accept vaccination offers. "Please join us."The Bundestag had first established the special situation in March 2020 and confirmed this most recently on June 11. From the opposition came partly sharp criticism. FDP health expert Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus warned against a "continuation of the automatic and undifferentiated encroachment on fundamental rights." Thanks to the progress in vaccination, the health care system is far from being overburdened. AfD leader Tino Chrupalla said that under the given circumstances there was no need to further restrict fundamental rights.
Photo by Taylor Brandon