Corona policy: Stiko expands Astra Zeneca recommendation – policy

The Astra Zeneca corona vaccine will soon be able to vaccinate older people in Germany. The Standing Vaccination Commission of the Robert Koch Institute now recommends the vaccine for people who are 65 years of age or older.

So far, the vaccine has only been approved in Germany for people between 18 and 64 years of age, although the European Medicines Agency, for example, also considers it suitable for older age groups. This was justified with insufficient data on the effects in the elderly. According to Health Minister Spahn, new study data also showed that the vaccine is even more effective if the interval between the first and second vaccination is twelve weeks. The Stiko also recommend that. “We will implement both recommendations in the regulation very soon,” explains Spahn.

The head of the commission, Thomas Mertens, had already announced a “new, updated recommendation” last week. According to study results from Great Britain, where there is already significantly more vaccination with Astra Zeneca, the vaccine is also highly effective in the elderly population.

It is expected that after the recommendation of the Stiko, the Corona vaccination ordinance of the Ministry of Health will be changed promptly and the immunizations of older people with Astra Zeneca can start very soon.

Bundestag extends “epidemic situation” by three months

The German Bundestag passed changes to the Infection Protection Act on Thursday and extended the “epidemic situation of national scope” by three months. For the proposal of the coalition of the Union and SPD, 368 MPs voted, 293 voted against, three abstained, as Bundestag Vice President Claudia Roth announced.

“Nobody wants restrictions a day longer than necessary. But we are still in a special situation,” said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn in front of the MPs. “The pandemic is not over yet.” That is why the extension is “correct” “The situation is also dynamic because of the mutations.” It is “difficult to find the right balance” between the “longing for normalcy” and the “need to keep this pandemic under control”.

So far, the deadline for the regulation was March 31st. According to the law, the Bundestag now has to decide on an extension every three months. “We’re still right in the middle,” said Spahn. “But everything speaks for the fact that this will be the last spring in this pandemic.”

In the modified Infection Protection Act, all measures to combat the corona pandemic will in future also be geared towards the possible spread of virus mutants. In the event of possible loosening, it is now emphasized that not only the seven-day incidence should be used. “When examining the abolition or restriction of protective measures”, the number of people who have already been vaccinated and “the time-dependent number of reproductions must be taken into account,” says the text.

Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria are opening schools

Baden-Württemberg will take the next step in opening schools in the state on March 15th. Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) confirmed this on Thursday in the SWR. “The week after next we will take further opening steps in the elementary schools. But further opening steps have also been initiated in the fifth and sixth graders. This will be such a restricted regular operation,” said the Green politician to the station.

In the secondary schools, grades 5 and 6 are to receive face-to-face lessons again by the Easter holidays, the German press agency learned on Thursday from government circles in Stuttgart. All students should come into the school building and be distributed over several rooms there.

After the elementary schools started with alternating lessons almost two weeks ago, they are now to go into “restricted regular operation” on March 15, which means that the requirement to attend classes remains suspended. In Baden-Württemberg, some of the final classes are also back in face-to-face classes. When the middle school starts again, it will not be decided until later.

In Bavaria, the secondary schools are allowed to reopen completely from March 15 – with alternating lessons and only in regions with a seven-day incidence below 100.

The federal-state round on Wednesday gave the states a free hand again on the question of further school openings. The decision simply states: “For safe school operations and safe childcare, the federal states ensure within the framework of test concepts that the staff in schools and childcare as well as all pupils are offered at least one free quick test per week of attendance. As far as possible a certificate of the test result should be issued. “

RKI reports 11,912 new infections and 359 further deaths.

The health authorities in Germany reported 11,912 new corona infections to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) within one day. In addition, 359 additional deaths were recorded within 24 hours. That comes from the numbers of the RKI from Thursday. Exactly one week ago, the RKI had recorded 11,869 new infections and 385 new deaths within one day. The data reflect the status of the RKI dashboard at 5.20 a.m., changes or additions are possible at a later date.

According to the RKI, the number of new infections reported within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants (seven-day incidence) was 64.7 nationwide on Thursday morning – and thus slightly higher than the previous day (64.0). Four weeks ago, on February 4th, the incidence had been 80.7. Its previous high was reached on December 22nd at 197.6.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the RKI has counted 2,471,942 detected infections with Sars-CoV-2 in Germany (as of March 4th, 5:20 am). The actual total number is likely to be significantly higher, as many infections are not detected. The RKI stated the number of those who had recovered at around 2,283,400. The total number of people who died with or with a proven infection with Sars-CoV-2 rose to 71,240.

According to the RKI management report on Wednesday, the nationwide seven-day R-value was 0.93 (previous day 0.94). This means that 100 infected people theoretically infect 93 other people. The value represents the occurrence of the infection 8 to 16 days ago. If it is below 1 for a longer period of time, the infection process subsides; if it is consistently higher, the number of cases increases.

The federal and state governments agree: Gradual openings depending on the incidence

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Prime Ministers of the federal states discussed how to proceed in the Corona crisis on Wednesday. The lockdown to fight the corona pandemic in Germany is basically extended until March 28, but with many opening options depending on the infection situation.

Bookstores, florists and garden centers can do so if they comply with hygiene requirements from March 8th reopen nationwide. Also on this date it should be stable or falling Incidences between 50 and 100 be able to go shopping again by booking appointments in retail outlets. A maximum of one customer per 40 square meters applies here. Visits to museums, galleries, zoos and botanical gardens that have been booked individually will also be possible again. At Incidents under 50 open the aforementioned facilities. At this point, retail can also open.

14 days later, on March 22, the next opening step follows if the incidences are stable. At Incidences between 50 and 100 Theaters, concert halls, opera houses and cinemas can be visited upon submission of a daily quick test or self-test. Sport is permitted indoors without contact and outdoors with contact. If you book an appointment, you can also visit the outdoor dining area. At Incidence values ​​below 50 the aforementioned options are also possible without tests.

Another 14 days later, So at the earliest on April 5th In the higher incidence ranges, contact-free indoor sports and outdoor contact sports are allowed without a test. With incidences below 50, outdoor leisure events with up to 50 participants are possible.

Important elements for further openings should be vaccination and testing. It was agreed that at the end of March / beginning of April the general practitioners’ and specialist practices would be fully involved in the vaccination campaign in order to accelerate it. Free corona rapid tests for all citizens are expected to be possible from next week. From then on, the federal government will take over the costs. At least one rapid test should be possible per week, which trained staff can do in test centers or medical practices, for example.

RKI: More contagious mutant in 46 percent of positive samples

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the spread of the corona variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected in Great Britain, has increased further. Their share in a sample of almost 25,000 positive cases from last week is around 46 percent, according to an RKI report published on Wednesday. At the beginning of the survey, around a month ago, the RKI had put the proportion of mutants at six percent, two weeks later it was 22 percent. Estimates that about half of the cases now go back to B.1.1.7 were already known on Tuesday.

The share of 46 percent relates to retests of several laboratory groups for key mutations of the variant. According to the RKI, it “cannot be safely transferred to all Sars-CoV-2-positive samples in Germany”. The report is also based on other data sources: if you look at complete genetic analyzes, which are carried out less often but are considered clear evidence, around 22 percent are mutants. The rapidly growing trend in the proportion of variants is observed regardless of the method used.

The RKI writes that a further increase in the proportion of B.1.1.7 can be expected. It is a more contagious variant that, according to initial studies, also causes severe disease more often. It is expected that containment of the pandemic will become more difficult as it spreads.

Rapid tests are still in short supply in March

In the federal-state consultations, the need for rapid tests in a comprehensive test strategy is estimated to be higher than in the plans of the Ministry of Health, according to the groups of participants. There will probably be a task force to take care of the order, according to participants. Chancellor Angela Merkel has calculated that the monthly requirement could amount to up to 150 million rapid tests – depending on how many people let themselves be tested and which opening steps are associated with tests. Manufacturers stated in discussions that they would deliver up to 40 million pieces per week, it said. In March, however, rapid tests could still be scarce.

In Brandenburg now also vaccinations in medical practices

The first medical practices in Brandenburg started vaccinations against the coronavirus on Wednesday – initially as a model project. In the Senftenberg district of Hosena (Oberspreewald-Lausitz), one of initially four practices in the state opened for vaccinations. Vaccination is based on the prioritization. First, two nurses in the group practice were vaccinated with the Astra Zeneca vaccine.

For regular vaccinations in practices and for home visits, the federal corona vaccination ordinance has to be changed. The plan is for doctors to assign appointments to their patients themselves in the future. With the involvement of doctors, the state government wants to vaccinate significantly more people after a sluggish vaccination start. When it comes to the share of first vaccinations in the population, the state lags behind in the national average.

Vaccinations in doctors’ practices have been going on for decades, this is the most normal thing in the world – it is finally time for the vaccination ordinance by Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) to be changed accordingly, said the chairman of the Brandenburg Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KVBB), Peter Noack Begin. “This will bring us closer to the citizens.” The vaccination must be brought into the area in order to achieve high vaccination rates.

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