Corona news: omicron infection after the fourth vaccination – politics

Data from Israel indicate a rather small additional benefit of a fourth corona vaccine dose in protection against omicron infections. In healthcare workers, a fourth dose of mRNA vaccine has restored antibody levels to those seen shortly after the booster, but breakthrough infections have been common. This emerges from a paper by an Israeli team that has not yet been checked by external experts.

The effectiveness of the fourth dose in terms of protection against infection with the omicron variant is given by the researchers as eleven (Moderna) to 30 percent (Biontech) more compared to people who have been vaccinated three times. Elderly and vulnerable groups are likely to benefit most from a fourth dose, according to the authors, because of the assumed effect against serious illness and death.

According to the study, the courses of infection in health workers were usually very mild, but the majority of them had relatively high viral loads. According to the authors, they were potentially contagious. In their conclusion, they write that the poor effectiveness of the fourth dose in preventing mild or asymptomatic omicron infections and the potential for infection in those affected increases the urgency of developing next-generation vaccines. Overall, the data suggested that a fourth dose does not further increase immunity, but simply restores peak levels, they say.

“These data from Israel tend to speak against a 4th vaccination for everyone,” commented the Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) on Twitter. The immunologist Carsten Watzl wrote: “Little benefit at the current time with the current vaccine!” However, he added that the results are not necessarily transferrable to people over 70 years of age.

In Germany recommends the Standing Committee on Vaccination a second booster vaccination recently for certain groups such as people over 70 years of age, nursing home residents and immunocompromised – at the earliest three months after the booster. At the earliest six months later, it is also recommended for staff in medical and nursing facilities. (02/17/2022)

Court finds curtailment of convalescent status illegal

The reduction of the recovered status by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) from six to three months is illegal according to the Berlin Administrative Court. About the period of validity of the convalescent status federal government decide for themselves, the judges decided in an urgent procedure and refer to the regulations in the Infection Protection Act. According to the court, this decision initially only applies to the two applicants who went before the administrative court. The court cannot generally suspend the regulation, a spokesman for the court said.

In the opinion of the responsible 14th chamber, the decision as to which persons are to be assumed to be immunized cannot be transferred to the RKI as the higher federal authority. This goes beyond the limits of legal authority. For this reason, the court did not have to deal with the question of whether the reduction in time from six to three months was based on sufficient scientific knowledge or was sufficiently justified.

The federal and state governments have already agreed that the determination of the recovered status should no longer be delegated to the RKI. This is to undo a recent change. This provides that the deadline is no longer in a regulation, but that the specifications of the RKI on its website apply directly. On this basis, the institute shortened the recovered status from six to three months on January 15. Many citizens lost the opportunity to go to restaurants or bars almost overnight. Resentment caused that this change initially went largely unnoticed. (02/17/2022)

Nationwide incidence falls for fifth consecutive month

The nationwide seven-day incidence has fallen for the fifth straight day. This increases the evidence that the omicron wave actually breaks. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) gave the value of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants per week on Wednesday morning as 1385. On Wednesday the value was 1401. The health authorities in Germany reported almost 236,000 new corona infections to the RKI within one day. 261 people died in connection with the virus.

However, the figures are only of limited significance. Experts assume a high number of cases that are not recorded in the RKI data. Test capacities and health authorities are at the limit in many places, contacts are only traced to a limited extent. That is why we use the SZ Corona Dashboard to show an average value from the reports of the past seven days, which is intended to compensate for fluctuations from day to day. You can find more information about this in the Transparency Blog, more data and graphics on the pandemic here.

The number of corona-infected patients who came to clinics per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days was 5.97 (Wednesday: 6.04) according to the RKI. These include people with a positive corona test who have another main disease.

As the RKI announced, three quarters of the German population are now basic immunized. At least 62.4 million people, or 75 percent of the population, would have received basic protection, which usually requires two injections. “Unfortunately, this rate is far too low to largely abolish protective measures. So please get vaccinated/boosted if you have the opportunity,” wrote the RKI on Twitter.

A total of 46.5 million people (55.9 percent) received at least one booster shot. 63.3 million people or 76.2 percent of the population received just one dose of the vaccine. 19.8 million people are unvaccinated. This corresponds to 23.8 percent of the population. However, no vaccine has been approved for four million of them (4.8 percent) because they are four years old or younger. (02/17/2022)

The federal and state governments decide: It will be relaxed

In view of an apparently declining number of corona infections, the federal and state governments have agreed that most corona measures should be dropped by March 20th. That said Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) after a meeting with the Prime Ministers. However, protective measures such as wearing a mask and keeping your distance should be maintained.

“Basic protection” is still needed, and everyone agrees on that, said North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU), who is currently chairing the Prime Ministers’ Conference – this includes, for example, the possibility of enacting a mask requirement or hygiene requirements. The federal government will now create a legal basis for this, said Chancellor Scholz.

After the meeting, he spoke of a “very special day”. The peak of the omicron wave has probably been reached and one can assume that the situation is now improving from day to day. “It’s the same for many citizens as I am: somehow, after all these two long years, we deserved that things somehow get better again,” said Scholz. “It looks a bit like that’s exactly what we have in front of us.” However, Scholz expressly does not want to speak of a “Freedom Day”. “I don’t believe in such terms,” ​​he said. This is not a formulation that the parties in the government “run around with”. The term is not appropriate to the seriousness of the situation.

However, one must be prepared for a new wave in the fall – it is still necessary for as many people in Germany as possible to oppose it Coronavirus get vaccinated. Scholz said that a general obligation to vaccinate is still “important”. He agrees with all country heads of government on this. “The pandemic is not over yet.” Wüst said you have to “combine openings and mindfulness”.

There should be gradual easing until March 20th – albeit with slight reservations. This was announced by Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD). In a first step, contact restrictions for those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered should therefore be completely eliminated – “without limiting the number of participants”. The access rule in retail only for vaccinated and recovered people (2 G), which has already been abandoned in many federal states, is to be overturned nationwide. Medical masks would have to be worn there.

In a second step, from March 4th, access to the catering and hotel industry will not only be made possible for those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered, but also for people with a negative test (3 G). Discotheques and clubs are open to those who have recovered and those who have been vaccinated with a daily test or with a third vaccination (2 G plus). For major national events – including sports – the following should apply: indoors, an occupancy of up to 60 percent of the maximum capacity, a maximum of 6000 spectators; in the outdoor area up to 75 percent of the maximum capacity, a maximum of 25,000 spectators. However, this is subject to the condition that the health system is not overloaded by Corona.

“In a third and final step from March 20, 2022, all more extensive protective measures should be dropped if the situation in the hospitals allows it,” says the three-stage plan that the federal and state governments have drawn up. Then, for example, the home office obligation should also be dropped.

After the anger about the short-term reduction of the convalescent status by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the legislature should again decide on this in the future. “The back and forth was not good,” criticized Wüst. Scholz said he had confidence in the RKI – but it would be better if citizens were not simply referred to an RKI website for such an important question. In order to be able to act faster, the federal government had not previously determined how long one is considered to have recovered from Corona, but left this to the RKI. This shortened the status in January to three months without announcing the decision in advance, which also triggered considerable resentment in politics. (02/16/2022)

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