Germany’s vaccination rate row is ‘irrelevant’, says top virologist

Christian Drosten, head of virology at Charite Hospital in Berlin
Christian Drosten, head of virology at Charite Hospital in Berlin. Photo: dpa | Kay Nietfeld
Leading coronavirus researcher Christian Drosten has dismissed the anger that erupted after German health authorities admitted their vaccine figures were probably too low.

“That is essentially just a slapstick comedy what has happened there,” Drosten said in reference to the anger that followed the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) publishing a survey that indicated several million more Germans have been vaccinated than shows up in official figures.

Drosten said on his fortnightly Coronavirus-Update podcast on public broadcaster NDR that the anger was “completely unnecessary.”

The head of virology at Berlin’s Charite hospital said that the higher vaccine rate among adults was “irrelevant” since what is important is achieving immunity in the population as a whole.

The higher numbers were too small to make a significant difference to overall immunity, while the survey results themselves could also be inaccurate, he said.

Last week the RKI said they believe the real number of vaccinations carried out in Germany is up to five percentage points higher than the official reporting data shows. Five percentage points in the adult population corresponds roughly to 3.5 million people.

READ ALSO: What does Germany’s higher vaccination rate mean for winter?

According to official reports from vaccination centres and GPs, just under 76 percent of adults have been fully jabbed.

While Health Minister Jens Spahn described the survey results as “really good news” that shows Germany is “more prepared for the winter,” the news was met with hefty criticism from opposition politicians and other health professionals.

“On the basis of apparently false and insufficient data, serious decisions are being made for millions of people and fundamental rights are being restricted,” Gerald Gaß, head of the German Hospital Federation told Welt newspaper. 

Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus of the Free Democrats told Bild newspaper that the RKI was “too close to the government” saying that “we want to make the agency political independent in the future”.

Green politician Dieter Janecek said that other countries “don’t have such problems with recording the vaccination rate. Germany is once again out of its depth.”

READ ALSO: Germany’s Covid vaccination rate higher than official stats, says RKI

Flatlining case number

Meanwhile the trend of stagnating case numbers in Germany persists. On Wednesday morning the RKI said that 11,900 news cases had been reported in the past 24 hours.

The 7-day incidence of cases remained at slightly over 65 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. This value, which for much of the pandemic was the measure used for bringing in new restrictions, has been steady in the mid-60s since the start of October.

A further 92 deaths in connection with a Covid-19 infection were also reported.


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