BERLIN The University Hospital of Giessen, one of Germanys foremost clinics for pulmonary disease, is at capacity. The number of Covid-19 patients has tripled in recent weeks. Nearly half of them are on ventilators.
And every single one is unvaccinated.
I ask every patient: Why didnt you get vaccinated? said Dr. Susanne Herold, head of infectious diseases, after her daily round on the ward on Thursday. Its a mix of people who distrust the vaccine, distrust the state and are often difficult to reach by public information campaigns.
Patients like hers are the main drivers of a fourth wave of Covid-19 cases in Germany that has produced tens of thousands of new daily infections more than the country has had at any point in the pandemic.
For Germany it is a startling turnabout. At the onset of the pandemic, Germany had set an example for how to manage the virus and keep the death toll low. It was quick to put in place widespread testing and treatment, expand the number of intensive care beds and had a trusted leader in Chancellor Angela Merkel, a trained scientist, whose governments social distancing guidelines were widely observed.
But today, a combination of factors has propelled a new surge, among them wintry temperatures, a slow rollout of booster vaccines, and an even more pronounced spike in infections in neighboring eastern European nations like the Czech Republic. The fact that Germany is in a kind of political limbo as it transitions between governments has not helped.
But virologists and pandemic experts say there is little doubt that it is the unvaccinated who are contributing most to the wave of infections burdening in hospitals across the country.
Its our low rate of vaccination we havent done what was necessary, said Dr. Herold in Giessen. She was part of a team of scientists who modeled the impact of a fourth wave and warned in early summer that with the hyper contagious Delta variant at least 85 percent of the whole population would need to be vaccinated to avert a crisis in the health care system.
We are still below 70 percent, she said. I dont know how we can win this race against time with the fourth wave. I fear weve already lost.
Germanys vaccination rate is far better than that of many central and eastern European countries, where the death toll from coronavirus is soaring. In Romania, for example, only about four in 10 people have had two shots, and coronavirus deaths have hit record levels.
Still, with about one in three Germans not yet fully vaccinated, the German vaccination rate is among the lowest in Western Europe. In Belgium, Denmark and Italy three in four people are fully vaccinated. In Spain and Iceland, only about two in 10 have yet to get the second shot. Portugal has a vaccination rate of close to 90 percent.
The German rate lags because of pockets of vaccine resistance that are not limited to, but especially deep, in the former Communist east, where the far-right Alternative for Germany party is strong. Tino Chrupalla and Alice Weidel, leaders of the AfDs parliamentary group, are both proudly unvaccinated and both tested positive for the virus in recent weeks.
What we are experiencing is above all a pandemic of the unvaccinated, the minister of health, Jens Spahn, said earlier this month.
Infections have also spiked in parts of Bavaria and Baden-Wrttemberg, two wealthy southern states that are home to a noisy protest movement against measures to combat the virus, known as the Querdenker, or contrarians.
We have two viruses in the country, Markus Sder, the Bavarian governor, said in a television debate recently. We have coronavirus and we have this poison, which is being spread on a massive scale, he said referring to misinformation about vaccines.
Nov. 12, 2021, 11:32 a.m. ET
Klaus-Peter Hanke knows about that poisonous propaganda firsthand.
He is the mayor of Pirna, a town of less than 40,000 in the eastern state of Saxony, which experienced a wave of violent protests from anti-vaxxers in the final days of the lockdown last spring.
One in three voters in the voting district that includes Pirna cast their ballots for the AfD in Septembers national election. And just under half of inhabitants refuse to get vaccinated. They have helped to make Saxony the state with the lowest vaccination rate in Germany and with the highest per capita number of new infections.
The readiness to get vaccinated is low here, Mr. Hanke said in an interview. We tried to counter that with dialogue. But there is a point where you hit a wall, and you just cant get any further and one result is that it has escalated.
The Covid ward at the hospital is running out of beds. There, too, almost all patients are unvaccinated, Mr. Hanke said: Nine out 10.
And still, several restaurants in town have signs in the window, inviting everyone not just those vaccinated or recovered from an infection as per state rules to come inside.
There are now 10 control teams of three people each a police officer a health official and someone from the department of public order who roam the citys restaurants, bars and hairdressers and fine those disregarding the rules on the spot: Owners have to pay 500 euros, about $572, patrons 150 euros, $170.
Its pretty drastic, said Mr. Hanke, who has vaccine resisters in his own circle of friends. But we see no other way to get people to change their behavior.
Anecdotally at least, the tough approach might be paying off. Waiting times at mobile vaccination units increased to two hours this week, Mr. Hanke reported, suggesting that the threat of exclusion from much of indoor public life might be nudging more people to get a shot.
Several other German states are now working on similar regulations, introducing stricter mask mandates and instead of a negative test, making proof of vaccination or past infection mandatory for entry to many venues.
That may no longer be enough, said Sandra Ciesek, director of the Institute of Medical Virology at the University Hospital of Frankfurt and cosignatory of a paper by seven prominent scientists published last week, in which they urge politicians to speed up booster shots and consider a range of measures, including partial lockdowns for the unvaccinated or even a short-term national lockdown.
The absence of political leadership at the national level at a time when the number of new daily infections is soaring beyond 50,000 has added to the muddled approach to containing the virus.
Since her conservative party lost the national election in September, Ms. Merkel remains only as the head of a caretaker government while her likely successor, Olaf Scholz, has been absorbed by difficult coalition talks with two other parties.
Where is Angela Merkel? Der Spiegel asked in an article this week, before asking a few paragraphs lower: Where is Scholz?
It is a question many virologists across the country are asking, too, concerned that a lack of political leadership is wasting valuable time and potentially costing lives.
There is no real center of power and responsibility: The country is missing leadership, said Michael Meyer-Hermann, head of the department of Systems Immunology at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and a member of the council of experts that has advised Ms. Merkel throughout the pandemic.
The outgoing government no longer really reacts, and the incoming government is playing everything down, he added.
After the number of daily new coronavirus infections hit a record high on Nov. 3, reaching 33,949, German virologists sounded the alarm. The response from Mr. Scholzs future coalition partners was a statement promising that there would not be another lockdown.
For me it was a key moment, Professor Meyer-Hermann said. They act like the pandemic is over at a time when the numbers are exploding.
Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting.
Here is the original post:
Germanys Fourth Covid Wave: A Pandemic of the Unvaccinated - The New York Times
- New York Reports Five Omicron Cases - The New York Times - December 3rd, 2021
- Pfizer COVID pill benefited from research on SARS : Shots - Health News - NPR - December 3rd, 2021
- San Francisco Followed Covid Rules. Will Omicron Change the Playbook? - The New York Times - December 3rd, 2021
- COVID-19 survivors have higher risk of death 12 months after infection - Medical News Today - December 3rd, 2021
- Omicron could be tougher against the COVID-19 vaccine than other variants, Rice research shows - Houston Public Media - December 3rd, 2021
- CDC director says recommendations for protection the same, 'regardless of the variant': COVID updates - USA TODAY - December 3rd, 2021
- COVID-19 in South Dakota: 512 total new cases; Death toll rises to 2,357; Active cases at 7,572 - KELOLAND.com - December 3rd, 2021
- Coronavirus in Ohio Thursday update: Over 9,000 new cases - NBC4 WCMH-TV - December 3rd, 2021
- Northeast Ohio sees highest COVID hospitalization levels in the state - fox8.com - December 3rd, 2021
- Omicron and other coronavirus variants: What you need to know - Wink News - December 3rd, 2021
- Patriots again experience the disruptive power of Covid-19 - Pats Pulpit - December 3rd, 2021
- First Omicron case reported in the US: Live updates - CNN - December 2nd, 2021
- COVID-19: Top news stories about the coronavirus pandemic on 1 December | World Economic Forum - World Economic Forum - December 2nd, 2021
- How worried should we be about Omicron, the new coronavirus variant? - CNN - December 2nd, 2021
- Greece imposes monthly fines of 100 euros on the over-60s who refuse a Covid vaccine - CNBC - December 2nd, 2021
- UC San Diego hustling to find Omicron variant of coronavirus to help assess threat to public health - The San Diego Union-Tribune - November 29th, 2021
- Coronavirus variants: Here's what we know - CNN - November 29th, 2021
- OMICRON: Cases of new coronavirus variant are confirmed around the world - News 12 Bronx - November 29th, 2021
- South Africa informed the world of omicron. Then it was hit with travel bans : Coronavirus Updates - NPR - November 29th, 2021
- Will the Covid Vaccines Stop Omicron? Scientists Are Racing to Find Out. - The New York Times - November 29th, 2021
- Gov. Murphy got his COVID booster shot and says you should too - nj.com - November 29th, 2021
- Stocks and oil prices drop as the world reacts to new coronavirus variant omicron - NPR - November 27th, 2021
- World is put on high alert over the Omicron coronavirus variant - CNN - November 27th, 2021
- Active coronavirus cases surge in Ulster; Dutchess reports one new death - The Daily Freeman - November 27th, 2021
- The highest COVID death rate in the world is in Peru. How did that happen? : Goats and Soda - NPR - November 27th, 2021
- Daily coronavirus data for Colorado, BVSD and the University of Colorado Boulder, reported Nov. 26, 2021 - The Daily Camera - November 27th, 2021
- COVID-19 skeptic barely survives 102 days in hospital: Oregon man thought it was all a lie - oregonlive.com - November 27th, 2021
- CPW keeping eye on research documenting coronavirus in deer - The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel - November 25th, 2021
- Why are coronavirus cases and hospitalizations on the rise in the US? - ABC News - November 25th, 2021
- Serious concern as South Africa detects new coronavirus variant - Aljazeera.com - November 25th, 2021
- 548 more coronavirus cases have been reported across Maine - Bangor Daily News - November 25th, 2021
- Coronavirus: NYC families will get paid time off to have kids vaccinated - silive.com - November 25th, 2021
- These 7 N.J. ZIP codes have been hit hardest by COVID - nj.com - November 25th, 2021
- Coronavirus researcher Cameron Myhrvold is using 'spectacular' new technologies to seek and destroy viral pathogens - Princeton University - November 25th, 2021
- Coronavirus in Ohio Wednesday update: Another day of more than 6,000 new cases reported - NBC4 WCMH-TV - November 25th, 2021
- How Is COVID Testing Still This Confusing? - The Atlantic - November 25th, 2021
- COVID-19: Unvaccinated mother, 27, dies with coronavirus as her father calls for fines for people who refuse jab - Sky News - November 25th, 2021
- U.S. has already seen more COVID deaths in 2021 than 2020 before vaccines were available, as experts again warn pandemic is not over - MarketWatch - November 25th, 2021
- Active coronavirus cases in Wyoming up by 202 | Coronavirus | wyomingnews.com - Wyoming Tribune - November 25th, 2021
- City of Fresno | Corona Virus (COVID-19) - November 23rd, 2021
- As Thanksgiving Approaches, U.S. Virus Cases Tick Upward Once More - The New York Times - November 23rd, 2021
- With coronavirus on the rise again, what will another pandemic winter look like in Oklahoma? - Oklahoman.com - November 23rd, 2021
- State's COVID-19 Positive Rate Remains Above 3% Ahead of Thanksgiving Weekend - NBC Connecticut - November 23rd, 2021
- California has one of lowest coronavirus rates in US heading into holidays, but could surge again - Stockton Record - November 23rd, 2021
- N.J. reports 1,330 COVID cases, 7 deaths. Positive tests rising ahead of Thanksgiving holiday. - nj.com - November 23rd, 2021
- UK employers step up demand for workers vaccinated against Covid - The Guardian - November 23rd, 2021
- Mesa cancer survivor nearly dies from COVID-19 breakthrough infection - Arizona's Family - November 23rd, 2021
- Clashes break out in Brussels in protests over coronavirus restrictions - Reuters - November 23rd, 2021
- Protests have broken out across Europe in response to tightened COVID-19 restrictions - NPR - November 23rd, 2021
- Coronavirus tally: Global cases of COVID-19 top 258.3 million and Germany minister offers stark warning to unvaccinated - MarketWatch - November 23rd, 2021
- Doctor shares what to do so you don't 'bring COVID to your Thanksgiving dinner' - News 5 Cleveland - November 23rd, 2021
- On This Day: COVID-19 patient zero reportedly diagnosed in China in 2019 - The Jerusalem Post - November 23rd, 2021
- Coronavirus in Ohio Monday update: More than 4,300 cases reported - NBC4 WCMH-TV - November 23rd, 2021
- Could coronavirus stay on surfaces and infect you? New study - The Jerusalem Post - November 21st, 2021
- COVID live updates: All the coronavirus news you need to know - ABC News - November 21st, 2021
- Coronavirus in Oregon: 1,090 new cases, 28 deaths as feds recommend boosters for all adults - oregonlive.com - November 21st, 2021
- In South Sudan, Vaccines Are Overshadowed by Pressing Needs - The New York Times - November 21st, 2021
- Kalispell's hospital finds innovative method to fight COVID-19 - KPAX-TV - November 21st, 2021
- Coronavirus FAQ: What is long COVID? And what is my risk of getting it? - NPR - November 18th, 2021
- 'Sadly, this virus will never leave our society': Weekly new infections again surpass 600,000. COVID-19 updates - USA TODAY - November 18th, 2021
- Coronavirus spreads in deer and other animals. Scientists worry about what that means for people - CNN - November 18th, 2021
- COVID-19 Q&A: Should I invite non-vaccinated family to Thanksgiving dinner? - mlive.com - November 18th, 2021
- Netherlands Is Maxing Out Its Covid Testing Capacity - The New York Times - November 18th, 2021
- Hospitals across KELOLAND seeing increase in COVID-19 patients - KELOLAND.com - November 18th, 2021
- COVID cases are rising worldwide, is next variant on its way to Israel? - The Jerusalem Post - November 18th, 2021
- During 2021 NBA Finals, at least 12 people close to Bucks and Suns tested positive for COVID-19, per report - CBSSports.com - November 18th, 2021
- Researchers find way to filter coronavirus particles out of the air - Sky News - November 16th, 2021
- Is the COVID over? Dr. Fauci reveals the end of coronavirus is near - Deseret News - November 16th, 2021
- COVID in Georgia | COVID case, death, and hospitalization data Nov. 16 - 11Alive.com WXIA - November 16th, 2021
- U.S. COVID cases start to rise again as the holidays approach - NPR - November 16th, 2021
- Alaska reports 1,089 new coronavirus infections and two COVID-19 deaths over weekend - Anchorage Daily News - November 16th, 2021
- Why Dont We Have a Covid Vaccine for Pets? - The New York Times - November 16th, 2021
- Some Ways to Have COVID - New York Magazine - November 16th, 2021
- 'We are gravely concerned.' Henry Ford health officials warn of rising COVID hospitalizations - WXYZ - November 16th, 2021
- Treating severe COVID-19: Study assesses risks of dexamethasone - Medical News Today - November 16th, 2021
- 'We really don't know how they got it': Some Oklahoma deer have coronavirus antibodies - Oklahoman.com - November 14th, 2021
- Europe and Russia battle a new wave of COVID-19 - NPR - November 14th, 2021
- Coronavirus Today: Shifting the focus from herd immunity - Los Angeles Times - November 14th, 2021
- Broad Institute researcher wants to fade into obscurity, but first she hopes her COVID book is a bestseller - The Boston Globe - November 14th, 2021
- A farm winery in Colchester thrived during the coronavirus pandemic. But COVID-19 took its toll and the owner is selling. Asking price: $3.2 million... - November 14th, 2021