Saturday, November 27, 2021

Looming fourth wave of pandemics – The incidence figures paint a clear picture

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Some federal states show corona numbers separated by vaccination status. The number of infections among unvaccinated people is particularly high. What does the data say about the pandemic?

Corona data from several federal states indicate a significantly higher proportion of new infections among unvaccinated people than among people with full vaccination protection. Although unvaccinated people are probably tested much more frequently, the values ​​from the point of view of experts still allow a rough assessment of the pandemic, separated by vaccination status.

In the corona hotspot of Saxony, for example, where the rate of fully vaccinated people is currently the lowest nationwide at less than 60 percent, there was recently an immense gap between the two groups: while the incidence of those vaccinated on Tuesday was a good 64 cases per 100,000 people was within seven days, this value was around 28 times as high for those who were not or not fully vaccinated: a good 1,823 cases.

Such numbers are “certainly somewhat distorted,” said Carsten Watzl, Secretary General of the German Society for Immunology, with a view to factors such as the test frequency. Unvaccinated people, for example, have to be tested if 3G rules apply in restaurants or at work. Young students who are not (yet) vaccinated are also regularly checked for Covid-19. People with a vaccination certificate, on the other hand, often did not have to present a test. Therefore, especially in this group, some new infections could have gone undetected.

These factors are not so important that they fully explain the difference, said Watzl of the German press agency. “It is therefore still true that people who have not been vaccinated become infected much more frequently than those who have been vaccinated.” Among other things, he referred to the corona cases in the hospital. According to Watzl, the difference becomes very clear in the incidence of hospitalization.

According to the latest available data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), from October 18 to 24 (calendar week 42) per 100,000 people, six times more from the group of unvaccinated 18- to 59-year-olds came to the hospital because of Covid-19 than from the Vaccinated people of this age group. In people aged 60 and over, the incidence of hospitalization for the unvaccinated was 4.7 times as high. A vaccination does not protect 100 percent, so it cannot completely prevent infections or severe courses in vaccinated people.

In addition to Saxony, the seven-day incidence of new infections is also given in Thuringia, Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt separately for vaccinated and unvaccinated persons – sometimes daily or weekly. In contrast, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony, for example, do not make such a distinction.

In Bremen, the federal state with the highest vaccination rate in Germany (Tuesday: 79.3 percent), there was recently a discrepancy between the groups, albeit not as clear as in Saxony: In the first week of November, the incidence in the Hanseatic city was below the Unvaccinated in almost 261 and among vaccinated people in a good 41.

Status: November 16, 2021 (Source: State Research Institute Saxony)Status: November 16, 2021 (Source: State Research Institute Saxony)

There are no uniform rules nationwide as to who belongs to the respective group. Saxony, for example, classifies corona cases without information on the vaccination status among those who are not (fully) vaccinated. Baden-Württemberg also did the same until last week. But the proportion of people with an unknown vaccination status in the group of unvaccinated people was very high at 83 percent. Since Friday, the State Health Office in Stuttgart no longer reports the incidence separately according to vaccination status.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), on the other hand, in its surveys comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated people, excludes all cases with incomplete information on the vaccination status or partial vaccination. The authority regularly gives a nationwide overview of the separate incidence – unlike the Länder, however, only for those affected with symptoms. The most recent RKI data by vaccination status shows that in calendar week 42 the seven-day incidence of symptomatic Covid cases in both 18- to 59-year-old unvaccinated persons and those aged 60 and over was around three times as high as in full Vaccinated people of the same age group.

In its weekly report last Thursday, the RKI wrote that, since the beginning of February, protection against infection with symptoms through vaccination has been 82 percent for 18 to 59-year-olds and 80 percent for older people. The institute pointed out, however, that the values ​​should be interpreted with caution: the infection rate, vaccination rates and possibly different test behavior in vaccinated and unvaccinated people could lead to bias.

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