Berlin (dpa) – The number of corona patients in regional clinics must become the most important criterion for the fight against the pandemic – also as a trigger for new daily restrictions.
Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has now presented a plan to replace the previous focus on incidence. Because this number of new infections no longer has such a strong and direct impact on the burden of clinics with severe cases of corona given the increasing number of vaccinations. The thresholds above which protective measures take effect should be determined by the respective federal states.
“The incidence is obsolete”
Spahn told the German Editorial Network (RND / Freitag): “The impact has had its day.” In order to assess the pandemic situation, the hospitalization rate is much more significant. It shows whether the pandemic will still be dangerous despite the high vaccination rate. “The countries then have to decide. They also keep an eye on all other pandemic criteria and can thus better assess the situation in their region, ”said Spahn.
According to the project, the “main benchmark” for protective measures to be taken should be “incidence of hospitalization” – that is, the number of corona patients admitted for hospital treatment per 100,000 population in seven. days. A fixed and uniform mark from which the countermeasures should originate is no longer provided. “The threshold value must be set in each case taking into account regional capacities for supplying hospitalized patients,” he said in the formulation proposal for the coalition factions, which is available to the agency. German press. First, the RND talked about it.
New “incidence of hospitalizations” benchmark
So far, the Infection Protection Act has specified fixed values from which federal states or local authorities should intervene: from an incidence over seven days over 50, for example, with “comprehensive protection measures”. In the future, the general objective should be defined as “to avoid the threat of overloading regional hospital care”. How far the clinic occupancy rate might increase for this should be determined regionally. And the impact should not be completely ignored either – as it was already the subject of other things. Other assessment parameters such as “infection dynamics” and number of people vaccinated could be included.
The standard should expressly not be applied only when intensive care units are occupied. At this most critical point, it would be too late to take countermeasures, as Spahn had repeatedly explained. Hospitalization should therefore map all hospital admissions of corona patients, as many come at least initially to normal wards. The German Foundation for Patient Protection has demanded more transparency in this regard, as is already the case for intensive care beds in a national register. A general “Corona occupancy register” must be in place by the end of September at the latest in order to get through the fall safely, said Eugen Brysch, a member of the dpa board of directors.
Action thresholds still open
It is not known in which area the regional intervention thresholds could fall. Nationally, the hospital admissions rate was recently less than two corona patients per 100,000 population in seven days, according to the Department of Health. This already shows an effect of vaccination: with a similar incidence over seven days, the rate was around six in mid-February – when vaccinations only started slowly. At the height of the second corona wave at the end of December 2020 the value was already above 15, at the third wave in April 2021 it was a little below 10.
The ministry sent the proposals directly after a request passed by the Bundestag on Wednesday with a deadline of August 30. Because the time for new regulations until the federal elections is short. The debate is also continuing in the Länder and among health professionals. In Bavaria, Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) announced a settlement for the coming week regardless of the impact. Depending on bed occupancy – even with intensive care beds – there should be a yellow and red warning level, from which more stringent requirements apply.
Doctors versus focusing only on hospital beds
Doctors have spoken out against a pure focus on hospital beds. “The signal from the removal of the incidence value 50 is critical,” German Society for Intensive Care Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine President Christian Karagiannidis told the “Rheinische Post” (Thursday) . Of course, the meaning has changed, but the incidence value should not be abandoned. “A triad of incidences, hospital cases and intensive care bed occupancy is important.”