Germany crossed the sombre threshold of 100,000 COVID-19-related deaths on Thursday with a surge in new infections posing a challenge for the new government.
Since the start of the pandemic, 100,119 people have died with the virus in Germany, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed. The number of new daily cases hit a new record of 75,961.
Hospitals in some areas, especially in eastern and southern Germany, are under pressure and virologists have warned that many more people could die.
The head of the Robert Koch Institute has put the mortality rate at about 0.8%, meaning that at daily case numbers around 50,000, some 400 people per day will end dying.
Germany’s incoming three-party government, which announced its coalition deal on Wednesday, said it would create a team of experts who would assess the situation on a daily basis.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Greens co-leader Annalena Baerbock said the new government, comprising the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP), had set itself 10 days to decide if further restrictions are needed.
Germany has already limited large parts of public life in areas where the situation is acute to people who have been vaccinated or have recovered.
FDP leader Christian Lindner said tighter regional restrictions would probably be needed if a national lockdown, like that in neighbouring Austria, is to be avoided.
With a vaccine rate of just 68.1%, far behind some European countries such as Portugal, Spain and even France, Chancellor-in-waiting Olaf Scholz promised to ramp up vaccinations and did not rule out making it compulsory.
"We must vaccinate and give booster shots to prevent the spread of the virus," said Scholz. "Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic," he said.
He said long queues for booster shots in some areas that are slowing things down had to be sorted out.A growing number of politicians are calling for compulsory vaccinations, initially for workers in some sectors, but possibly later for everyone.