Instead of falling in the spring, the incidence of corona is rising again across the country and the number of deaths is also rising. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the leader in terms of new registered infections, where the situation in intensive care units is once again alarming.
Even before the Russian invasion began, the corona pandemic had been largely written off by many, now the Ukraine war dominates the headlines, while Covid-19 seems to be of little consequence. But caution is advised. Because since the beginning of March, the number of cases throughout the country has not decreased, but has increased significantly again, especially in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. This is already noticeable there in intensive care units, whose occupancy with corona patients is increasing sharply. It is also worrying that Germany is counting more victims of Covid 19 again: since the beginning of February, the 7-day average has increased from 146 to 218.
Exactly how the 7-day issues unfold is less and less well understood. It is tested less frequently and infection chains are no longer traced. The fact that the number of unreported cases must be very high can be seen in the sometimes extreme success rates. According to the RKI, it recently jumped from 44 to 51 percent nationwide, and in Bremen it is even close to 70 percent.
Very high number of unreported cases
In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where the 7-day incidence is currently the highest with almost 2,000 new infections recorded per 100,000 population, the positive test rate is almost 50 percent. More decisive than the incidence, however, is what happens in hospitals, and that is where the alarms are already going off in five of the eight rural districts and urban districts of the country. At the national level, the incidence of hospitalizations is 16.7; if expected late discharges are taken into account, the adjusted value is almost 30.
That would not be a cause for concern either, as numerous cases are currently only testing positive in hospital and not admitted for Covid-19. However, these patients also place a heavy burden on the facility, as they must be housed and cared for in isolation, which involves a large staffing and logistical effort.
However, the more serious the diseases, which is why a patient was admitted, the more dangerous a corona infection is for him. In the case of a heart attack, for example, even a “mild course” can be life-threatening. It is even more worrying that the number of Covid 19 intensive care patients in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is also increasing significantly again. On February 20 there were still 60 cases, today there are already 91. The highs of last December with more than 100 corona patients could soon be reached. And from March 8 to 9 alone, the state recorded twelve new deaths from Covid 19.
More infectious variant and loosening
Greifswald bioinformatician Lars Kaderali suspects that the omicron subtype BA.2 is responsible for the increased numbers, not just in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. It is even more infectious than the original variant, the scientist who is part of the Council of Experts of the Federal Government told “Nordkurier”. In addition, there are the relaxed corona measures.
According to Kaderali, there was never a decrease in the number of cases in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania like in other federal states after the first wave of omicron. “As a result, the renewed surge builds on the peak of the previous wave.” This is particularly dangerous for older people, said the scientist quoted by the NDR. In those over 80 years of age in particular, the seven-day incidence has increased significantly compared to other age groups since the beginning of the year.
The growing number of cases in older people is especially worrying
At the national level, the official 7-day incidence of people over 80 years of age is 535 cases, in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania it already reaches almost 1,000 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants according to the management report of March 9. For people aged 60 to 79, the value is almost 750.
The rising number of cases among the very elderly could be the reason for the turnaround in the state’s intensive care units. Most people in this age group are vaccinated. But there is a significant proportion with insufficient protection or no protection at all, which, in the case of very high incidences, almost inevitably leads to more cases of intensive care and deaths.
An omicron infection is generally less severe than the predecessor variant Delta. But especially in risk groups, vaccinations make the decisive difference, with the third vaccination becoming more important with increasing age.
very few reinforcements
Figures from the Arizona Department of Health show just how big the difference is. According to this, in January in the US state, after two vaccines, adults had a 4.1 times lower risk of being hospitalized than those older than 18 years without protection. The risk of dying was 7.2 times lower. Those who received the booster were 67 times more likely not to get seriously ill and their risk of dying was even 180 times lower.
These are values for all adults, with very old people the difference could be significantly greater. Vaccination quotas in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania must be viewed even more critically. Because there, although 88.6 percent of those over 60 years of age are vaccinated twice, only 78 percent are reinforced.
Nationwide, just under 78 percent of the population over the age of 80 is fully vaccinated. In Saxony only about 69 percent of this age group are potentiated, in Brandenburg 71 percent. Schleswig-Holstein has the best rate at 88.5 percent, followed by Bremen (86 percent) and Berlin (82.7 percent).
Increase in intensive care cases also in Saxony-Anhalt
In Saxony-Anhalt, only 76 percent of those over 60 years of age are vaccinated. With around 1,700 new infections, it has the second highest incidence of the federal states and there is also a trend reversal in corona intensive care patients. Their number has increased from 46 since February 24 to 71 today.
It is not yet possible to say whether this is also the case in Thuringia, which has the same number of cases as Saxony. There, too, the decline in intensive care units has stopped, but since February 18 the number of Covid 19 patients in intensive care has only increased from 41 to 48.
It is striking that Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are the three federal states with the highest mean ages (48.1, 47.5 and 47.4 years). Brandenburg follows (47.2). There too, the corona intensive care cases have increased slightly from 55 on March 4 to 60 today. However, it should be noted that serious Covid 19 illnesses are often treated in Berlin hospitals.
Ultimately, the situation as a whole is not yet threatening, but a combination of high incidence, low vaccination rates and an older population obviously carries a risk that should not be underestimated and should not be lost sight of in light of the Ukraine war.
Expect the worst, expect the best
Nor should we forget that the two crises could hit each other harder in the fall. This can include a noticeable energy shortage that, among other things, makes heating more expensive and therefore frequent ventilation (in schools, among other things). A recession could further exacerbate inequalities that were already causing the socially disadvantaged to suffer, especially during the pandemic. Corona, the consequences of war, rearmament and an accelerated energy transition cost enormous amounts of money that will not be available for the necessary compensation and aid payments.
None of this has to happen, maybe Covid-19 will actually just come back as a bigger cold in the fall, and hopefully by then we can think about rebuilding Ukraine and returning the refugees. But it can also be different. Therefore, it is wise to remain vigilant, not to act too recklessly, to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.