Corona virus: South Africa variant is spreading strongly in Saarland

Health Minister Jens Spahn

Health Minister Jens Spahn

picture alliance / dpa | Kay Nietfeld

The health minister made no secret of the current situation in the pandemic: “The situation remains tense,” said Jens Spahn (CDU) on Friday at the federal press conference in Berlin. You have to be prepared for very challenging weeks and stroll between caution and normality for a long time.

Spahn also highlighted some successes: the increasing vaccination rate among residents of nursing homes, including the rapid tests for citizens, the falling death rate among the very old. “Testing, vaccination, caution” – this is the course for the coming weeks. Around six million people received at least one vaccination, most recently more than 270,000 people were vaccinated daily.

However, the vaccination campaign could suffer a setback due to virus mutations. One state in particular stands out here. Spahn said: “The Saarland is on the way to 15 percent South Africa variant. That is the highest proportion in all of Germany. ”Studies indicate that vaccines against this variant (B.1.351) are significantly less effective.

Lothar Wieler, President of the Robert Koch Institute, also issued further warnings: “The pandemic is not over yet, on the contrary, we are now at the beginning of the third wave,” he said. The aim must be to keep it as flat as possible.

There are also some worrying developments. In addition to the seven-day incidence and new infections, the number of people in intensive care units is also increasing in some federal states. Another observation by Wieler: “We see more outbreaks in daycare centers, even more than before Christmas.”

Medical representative: Practices should help with vaccination earlier

Health Minister Spahn also responded to the criticism that resident doctors are not fully involved in the vaccination campaign earlier. There is simply not enough vaccine to supply vaccination centers and medical practices alike, said Spahn. Nevertheless, there are currently hundreds of thousands of doses of vaccine in stock that cannot be vaccinated due to insufficient capacities.

Criticism of this course came from Anke Richter-Scheer, member of the board of the family doctors’ association Westphalia-Lippe. She was able to report from practice and showed a lack of understanding for the current vaccination strategy. She said that general practitioners’ practices should also start vaccinating “as soon as possible”. “Why shouldn’t we just use the infrastructure?” She also had a schedule in mind: “At the beginning of April, preferably earlier,” if the vaccinations should begin with doctors in private practice. According to Richter-Scheer, this would also make prioritizing the vaccinated easier. So far, April 19th is officially scheduled as the start of vaccinations in practices, but the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians does not expect this until May.

The federal and state governments want to discuss the procedure for vaccination at a joint conference on March 17th.


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