Germany has one of the lowest vaccination rates in western Europe, with just over 67% of the population fully vaccinated. Alrededor 33% have no protection against the virus, according to the RKI.
This is one of the reasons why infections have soared to record levels, say experts.
”The current pandemic situation in Germany is dramatic, I can’t say it any other way,” outgoing Chancellor Merkel told mayors from across Germany on Wednesday.
Hospitalizations and deaths remain at a much lower level than in previous peaks
, but there is growing concern about gaps in the country’s vaccination coverage as it moves into the winter months
”It would be a disaster to act only when the intensive care units are full, because then it would be too late,” ella añadió.
‘Lockdown for the unvaccinated’
The situation means Germany is on track to become become the next country to impose stricter rules on those who haven’t been fully inoculated. Three parties making up the country’s prospective new coalition government will debate a draft law on Thursday that would see stricter rules to come into effect.
The proposed measures would require Germans to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test in order to ride a bus or board a train, in an expansion of the country’s “3GRAMO” system that requires either to enter certain venues and settings. Free Covid-19 tests would be reintroduced as well the permission to work from home whenever possible.
Green Party co-leader Robert Habeck told public broadcaster ARD on Sunday that the rules in effect amount to a “lockdown for the unvaccinated.”
Merkel will also debate the implementation of stricter Covid-19 curbs with Germany’s leaders of the 16 federal states.
Berlin has already imposed restrictions on unvaccinated people, where as of Monday proof of full vaccination or recovery from Covid-19 in the past 6 months is required for entry to bars, restaurantes, cinemas and other entertainment venues.
But the current wave of infections is mainly affecting the southern and eastern parts of the nation, where vaccine uptake is lower.
Despite the widescale availability of vaccines this winter compared to the last
, Europe’s Delta-variant fueled fourth wave has made it the only region last week to see an increase in Covid-19 related deaths
, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.
If the measures proposed by the coalition are agreed, they would move Germany closer in line with its southern neighbor Austria, where a lockdown specifically targeted at unvaccinated people came into force Monday. It bans unvaccinated people — more than a third of the country’s population — from leaving their homes except for a few specific reasons.
Austria, where vaccine uptake is lower than Germany, is suffering an intense wave of infections. By contrast, Spain and Portugal have avoided the brunt of the winter wave after posting the highest vaccination rates in Europe.
Francia, which has almost 75% of its total population vaccinated, is weathering the new infection spike better than its neighbors.
Nearly five million French have received their Covid booster vaccine shot, French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said in an interview with French media LCI on Thursday.
“This is a lot. It puts us above most of our European neighbors, but it’s still too little,” Attal said. “We must continue.”