At the peak of the second Corona wave in Germany in 2021, there was a close correlation between the number of people falling ill in nursing homes and the vaccination rate in the corresponding federal states, according to a survey by Barmer Krankenkasse. This is according to the health insurer's Nursing Report 2022.
According to the report, there were also major regional differences in the number of people falling ill in nursing homes: for example, in December 2021, the lowest proportion of residents in nursing homes in Bremen fell ill, at 0.57 percent, while in Saxony this proportion was 10.3 percent; this was the highest value in Germany, Barmer reports. Schleswig-Holstein was in second place with 1.27 percent, and Thuringia was in second-to-last place with 9.73 percent. Nationwide, the figure was 4.26 percent. In the overall population, the proportion of people with the disease at that time was 2.64 percent.
"Countries with lower acceptance of Corona measures also had higher Covid percentages in the population," the report's authors write. Saxony and Thuringia have particularly low vaccination rates to date; currently, 50.5 and 54 percent of the population there, respectively, are basic immunized with a booster. In Bremen and Schleswig-Holstein, the rates are 67.2 and 70.7 percent, respectively. In Bavaria, which ranked third in the number of people with the disease in nursing homes in December 2021 at 6.25 percent, the triple vaccination rate is currently 59.4 percent.
According to the Barmer report, almost one in two Corona deaths in Germany had previously lived in a nursing home. Based on 2020 and 2021, the total cumulative proportion of those who died with Covid-19 in nursing homes is 45 percent, according to the report. "For the first and second waves, it appears that the largest proportion of decedents in each case came from the nursing home. In April 2020, 2415 of the 3970 recorded Covid-19 deaths (61 percent) were from nursing homes. In December 2020, 11,941 of 21,677 (55 percent) decedents were from nursing homes. In the third and fourth waves, the proportion fell well below 50 percent," Barmer's nursing report states. Despite a similar number of care recipients in outpatient care, the number of decedents there with Covid-19 was lower, the report adds.
The pandemic also left its mark on nursing home staff. During the pandemic, the proportion of people falling ill among nursing home staff was six times higher and among staff in outpatient care services twice as high as in the normal population. Employees in nursing facilities thus had a significantly increased risk of infection, the nursing report states. According to the report, 69.5 percent of employees now said they were often or always physically exhausted; before the pandemic, the figure was 43.2 percent. 81.2 percent of the more than 1,000 nurses surveyed said job demands had increased during the pandemic. In addition, 43.2 percent of respondents had thought about leaving their profession, the report said. Before the pandemic, that figure was 19.8 percent, it said.
The analysis is based on data from the approximately nine million people insured by Barmer Krankenkasse in Germany. The number of insured persons was extrapolated to the total population as of December of the respective year.
Photo by Stephen Andrews