“We have to act right now,” said Christian Drosten, who described a real emergency situation.
Doctors in the intensive care Covid ward at Leipzig University Hospital warn this fourth wave could be the worst yet.
One patient here, a woman in her 20s, has just given birth. Her baby is fine, but staff say they don’t know whether she’ll survive.
This state of Saxony has the highest seven-day infection rate in Germany at 459 cases per 100,000 people. The national rate is 232.
It also has the lowest take-up of vaccine: 57% of the population here have been immunised.
There are 18 patients on the Covid ward. Just four were vaccinated.
“It’s very difficult to get staff motivated to treat patients now in this fourth wave,” says Prof Sebastian Stehr, who heads the department. “A large part of the population still underestimates the problem.”
By now, Prof Sehr says, most people will know someone who’s had Covid and should, therefore, be aware of the risk of infection. “Nevertheless,” he adds, “we are still seeing so many patients who are not vaccinated.”
Germany’s health minister has publicly blamed those people for the soaring cases, describing the current situation as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.