July 24, 2021

Corona: These British infection numbers are a warning for Germany

KBecause Boris Johnson had adopted the powerful leaders at the G-7 summit in sunny Cornwall on Sunday, the British prime minister was already confronted with reality at home. On Monday evening, the conservative announced that his country could not lift all corona protective measures on June 21 as planned.

Instead, England will have to wait four more weeks. Now July 19th is supposed to be “Freedom Day”. The delta mutation, first found in India, spreads too quickly, said Johnson. “Infections have increased by 64 percent in the past week. In the particularly affected areas, the number of cases even doubles per week, ”said the Prime Minister on Monday evening at a press conference that was particularly feverishly awaited by the hospitality industry and major event organizers.

Millions of young people have not yet been vaccinated, said Johnson. Elderly and people with previous illnesses who have only had a vaccination are also at risk. “The connection between infections and hospital admissions has been weakened, but it has not broken off,” said the prime minister. “The number of people in intensive care units is also growing again.” According to the health authority Public Health England, 91 percent of the new cases are now caused by the delta variant, which is around 60 percent more contagious than the previously dominant alpha mutation, which first appeared before Christmas in Kent, England.

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UK after Brexit

This is precisely why developments in the UK are also a warning for Germany. Just before the festival last December, Johnson had to announce another hard lockdown because the alpha mutation spread rapidly in the country. As a result, two thirds of the almost 128,000 British corona patients died in January and February 2021 alone.

The alpha variant began to spread rapidly in Germany from mid-March. As a result, the hoped-for loosening of lockdowns had to be postponed, and the incidences only fell significantly in mid-May.

Source: WORLD infographic

The big question for the British government is therefore also one for the Federal Republic: is the quick vaccination enough to save people from hospital or even death? So far, the British experts have been confident despite the increasing number of infections. Only five percent of those with the Delta variant who had to go to a clinic had both vaccine doses.

The latest studies show, however, that the two vaccines primarily used in the United Kingdom only protect 33 percent against Delta after an initial vaccination. They gave 50 percent protection against the Kent variant.

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After the second dose, however, according to new studies, AstraZeneca protects up to 60 percent, and the body’s own defenses also grow over time. Biontech / Pfizer provides 88 percent protection against Delta after complete immunization.

Which is why Johnson announced on Monday that the second vaccinations will now be accelerated. By July 19, two thirds of all adults as well as “all over 40-year-olds and all vulnerable groups should be vaccinated twice”. At the same time, everyone over the age of 18 should also receive a vaccination offer.

Boris Johnson’s government has applied four criteria for all levels of relief: the course of the vaccination program, the effectiveness of the vaccine, the burden on the health system and the risk of new mutations. The fourth criterion will now be London’s greatest challenge.

Vaccination of first doses slowed down

“So far we have not seen that the growing infections are also driving the death rate up,” said Cambridge statistician David Spiegelhalter in an interview with the BBC on Monday. Only a third of the affected patients are over 55 years old. “Most of the patients are now much younger.”

Boris Johnson applied four criteria for all relief levels: the course of the vaccination program, the effectiveness of the vaccine, the burden on the health system and the risk of new mutations. The fourth criterion will now be London’s greatest challenge.

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“It’s a race between the rapid roll-out of the vaccination program and the increase in infections,” Johnson had predicted a few weeks ago. What forced him on Monday evening to complete what was already the most successful vaccination program in Europe before he allowed the major relaxations. 29 of the 52 million Britons over the age of 18 have already been vaccinated twice. Three quarters got their first dose.

Delta mutation hurts Johnson’s popularity

This week the age group of 25 to 29 year olds will receive their vaccination offer. Last week everyone over the age of 18 had the opportunity to book a vaccination appointment online. More than a million young people followed suit. However, vaccination of the first doses is now progressing more slowly because the second must be given at the same time.

So far, the prime minister has been able to keep to the timetable presented on February 22nd. On March 8th, all children were allowed back to the schools, which have remained open since then. At the end of March, there was the first relaxation for sports and outdoor activities. In mid-April, the outdoor catering was allowed to reopen, fitness studios, holiday apartments and family get-togethers in their own garden were also allowed. The big opening step came in mid-May, since then the indoor catering has been open with certain conditions, as have museums, cinemas and theaters.

The delta mutation is making Johnson, who can look forward to high approval ratings thanks to the fast vaccination program, on the way to “Freedom Day” now a line through the plans. The hospitality industry and event organizers are threatening lawsuits because they have invested millions in June 21.