Fourth corona wave: Researchers consider lockdown to be avoidable

Status: 11/29/2021 12:01 p.m.

The corona incidence is increasing daily, the clinics are sometimes overloaded. Nevertheless, a group of researchers around the physicist Priesemann considers a lockdown to be averted – if certain measures are taken quickly.

According to renowned researchers, a nationwide lockdown can still be averted in the current corona wave. The prerequisite for this, however, is the consistent and increased implementation of protective measures and rapid vaccination, according to a paper published today. The authors include the physicist Viola Priesemann, the epidemiologist Eva Grill and the medical-scientific director of the DIVI intensive care register, Christian Karagiannidis.

The researchers found that the regional health system is already overloaded. “The regional congestion can no longer be averted, but it can be mitigated,” said the scientists. The rise in the seven-day incidence and hospitalization rate needs to be slowed down and stopped urgently.

Record number of daily vaccinations required

The researchers consider the most important measure for this to be “vaccinating and boosting two percent of the population per day”. That would correspond to more than 1.6 million vaccinations per day – and thus significantly more than ever before. The previous high was reached on June 9, 2021 with 1.4 million vaccine doses administered.

All other measures were used to bridge the gap until sufficient immunity was built up, according to the scientists. These included above all 3G to 2G plus rules including wearing medical mouth and nose protection. Further-reaching measures such as contact restrictions are also necessary in particularly affected federal states.

The fourth wave climaxed in December

The researchers expect that the fourth corona wave will already peak in December – provided that one to two percent of the population receives a booster vaccination every day. The seven-day incidence will then be more than 1000 in several federal states. As a result, the intensive care units are expected to be heavily stressed between the end of December and mid-January. The clinics should prepare for this and receive “maximum support” from politicians.

The researchers are also working on the new virus variant Omikron, which was first reported in southern Africa and has now also been detected in Germany. They emphasize that the properties of this virus variant are still insufficiently known. However, there are indications of a higher transferability compared to previous variants. This is one of the reasons why they conclude: “Rapid and consistent action that leads to a significant containment of the infection process is essential at this point in time.”

In addition, the scientists are calling for politicians to quickly develop a so-called “emergency circuit breaker”. In order to be able to react immediately if the pandemic situation worsens, clear action plans that apply to all federal states are required. The legal prerequisites are to be created “as soon as possible” for this. Just three weeks ago, the same researchers had advocated using such an “emergency circuit breaker” even for a short time.

Medical associations also warn

Similar demands come from the Society for Virology (GfV) and the German Society for Immunology (DGfI). In an urgent appeal they warn of a collapse in hospital services in Germany. “If it is not possible to rigorously reduce the number of infections, it will not be possible to prevent the inpatient health system from collapsing,” says the joint text.

Specifically, in addition to extensive contact restrictions, the associations are calling for “an increase in the vaccination rate, if necessary through the introduction of mandatory vaccination and consistent booster vaccination”. The overriding goal must be “to reduce the number of infections and thus the number of hospitalizations to such an extent that regular patient care and the implementation of elective – that is, interventions that can be postponed – are unrestrictedly possible in the hospitals”.

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