Over the weekend, the symbolic threshold of 1000 patients was exceeded again. For the first time since mid-June, a four-digit number of Covid 19 patients had to be treated in the intensive care units of German hospitals. According to the intensive care registry of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, 56 affected patients were added within one day, bringing the total number of critically ill Corona patients to 1008. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the nationwide incidence rose on Sunday to 74.1 cases per 100,000 inhabitants within one week; 8416 new infections were recorded within one day. The figures show that despite progress in the vaccination campaign - just over 60 percent of citizens are now considered fully vaccinated - there is still a link between infection rates and hospital utilization.
New study results show that the emergence of the now dominant delta variant does not help in this calculation. Until now, scientists had assumed that delta was primarily more infectious than the previously widespread alpha variant of the virus. But it is apparently also significantly more dangerous. According to the study, the risk of hospitalization for infection with the delta variant is about twice as high as for alpha. That's what researchers at Cambridge University and Public Health England found in a study of more than 40,000 Corona cases in England between the end of March and the end of May this year. The findings, published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, primarily say something about the risk for the unvaccinated. For the fully vaccinated, the data do not allow any conclusions to be drawn.
What does this mean for the approximately 33 million people in Germany who currently have only limited or no vaccination protection? On Sunday, SPD health politician Karl Lauterbach called for a much more prudent approach to the virus. Lauterbach praised the so-called 2G model, which Hamburg has been testing since this weekend. It stipulates that restaurants and event venues participating in the trial only admit fully vaccinated or recovered people. A negative test is then not sufficient, but significantly fewer precautionary measures then apply inside.
Lauterbach believes the regulation should apply everywhere in the country. "In clubs, bars and restaurants, the danger is great," he told the F.A.Z. This applies to all places where many people talk loudly to each other with insufficient ventilation. If one person is then infectious after all, it is "almost guaranteed" that others will also become infected with the virus. Lauterbach spoke out against extending the 2G rules to the private sphere or the workplace. That would be "unworkable and uncontrollable," he said.
The Green Party's candidate for chancellor also spoke out in favor of the Hamburg 2G model over the weekend. Annalena Baerbock advocated that vaccinated and recovered people should be given more freedom than unvaccinated people. If someone does not show solidarity with children or the chronically ill, for example, "then he or she cannot expect everyone else to give up their freedom," Baerbock told the newspapers of the Funke-Mediengruppe. She therefore believes it is right to give vaccinated or recovered people more freedom again, "just as Hamburg is doing now". Thus one increases also the incentive to be inoculated. There should be no let-up in the vaccination campaign, "especially to protect children.
FDP health politician Andrew Ullmann, on the other hand, was critical of 2G. "I think very highly of the 3G rules," Ullmann told the F.A.Z. By also taking negative tests into account, he said, the risk of infection could be minimized. In any case, he said, from a scientific point of view, those who have been tested should be equated with those who have been vaccinated and recovered. "That should be maintained." The more restrictive 2G model only builds pressure on the unvaccinated, which he opposes. "If the governing parties demand vaccination, they should be in favor of compulsory vaccination," Ullmann said. But he said he is against such a requirement.
It remained unclear on Sunday what would become of Chancellor Angela Merkel's (CDU) proposal to introduce 3G rules for Deutsche Bahn's long-distance services as well. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert had confirmed on Friday that the German government was examining a 3G rule for long-distance trains in the fight against the pandemic. Everything must be done to contain the high Corona case numbers, Seibert said in justification. The Bild newspaper reported Sunday that there was resistance within the grand coalition to go along with the plan. According to the report, several ministries are said to have spoken out against the plan. The Federal Ministry of Transport, which is in charge of the review, would not comment on the report on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Health of Jens Spahn (CDU) is working to replace the incidence as a measure of the pandemic. It is already clear that regional hospital occupancy rates will play an important role in the future. The chairman of the German Foundation for Patient Protection, Eugen Brysch, campaigned on Sunday for the threshold values from which restrictions are to be imposed to be the same throughout Germany. Brysch told the German Press Agency that many people are tired of different regulations applying in different regions for the same situation. "That's why it would be wrong to leave the determination of a guideline number solely to the clinics or the respective states."
Image by Fernando Zhiminaicela