Ahe state of Bremen currently stands out in contradicting ways on the map material on the corona situation in Germany: On the one hand, small Bremen in the north has by far the highest vaccination rate of all countries with 75.1 percent of people with double protection. For comparison: according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), this rate is 64.6 percent across Germany. Saxony comes in last, where the rate is just 54.9 percent. At the same time, the city of Bremerhaven, with around 110,000 inhabitants, the smaller part of the two-city state of Bremen, has the highest corona incidence nationwide. The incidence in the port city at the mouth of the Weser was 292 on Friday (in the city of Bremen the incidence was just under 87). How does that fit together?
There is a bundle of possible explanations for both values. A considerable part of the corona infections in Bremerhaven can be traced back to a large cluster in a shipbuilding company. According to the city, 136 infections are currently known there – and the number is rising. As with the numerous outbreaks in the meat industry, subcontractor workers are the most affected, often from abroad and living in cramped communal accommodation. In addition, the vaccination rate in this group should be below average. There are also other clusters: a class of unvaccinated sixth graders who apparently spent the night together in a dormitory on a trip to the school camp. And a women’s choir, in which 16 out of 32 singers are currently infected. There are also some infections among dock workers.
A diffuse infection process
At the same time, there is also a strong, diffuse infection process in Bremerhaven. Many cases are registered, especially in schools. The health authority is currently aware of 135 cases, which are spread across 48 different facilities for children and adolescents. According to the city’s press spokesman, the incidence in the age group zero to five is currently 224, in the age group six to nine it is 302 and in the group ten to 19 it is an extremely high value of 585. According to the estimates of those responsible, this infection process plays a role Returnees who later passed the virus on to their families still play a role.
The new guide value for fighting pandemics, the hospitalization rate is currently increasing and is now at 7.93 (across Germany it was 1.65 on Friday). Those patients who are not being treated for Corona but for another disease and who are infected at the same time have already been excluded. In view of the increasing numbers, the city administration cannot exclude the possibility that public life will have to be restricted again in the future.
However, the city administration also points out that testing is carried out more closely in Bremerhaven than in other municipalities. Daily and compulsory tests were ordered for the schools after the holidays. In addition, in the event of infections, not only are contact persons quarantined, but tests are also carried out on these persons. It is therefore assumed that the high incidence is also related to the fact that the number of unreported infections is lower than elsewhere.
The many corona cases also show that a vaccination quota like the one in Bremen is not enough on its own to keep the pandemic under control. The mutated coronavirus can continue to spread rapidly, especially in areas of society where the vaccination rate is lower.
Politicians there attribute the high vaccination rates in Bremen and Bremerhaven to strong and early efforts to provide information. In view of the high number of residents with a migration background and in precarious circumstances, which is even higher in Bremerhaven than in Bremen, information was available in various languages and on many channels.
The small federal state, which was often criticized for its inefficient administration, was also praised in the pandemic for the effective allocation of vaccination appointments. Ironically, the red-green-red Senate had also entered into an alliance with the local private sector in order to set up a vaccination center in Bremen, which was the most efficient in all of Germany until it was closed at the end of September.
As an explanation for the high vaccination rate, social scientists also cite that the population in the north may be less susceptible to conspiracy theories. Another effect probably also plays a role: The large vaccination center in Bremen and the vaccination center in Bremerhaven correctly report the vaccinations carried out, while this is not always the case with doctors in private practice, according to reports. According to experts, the actual vaccination rate is therefore several percentage points higher than the reported one. In Bremen, however, this gap is possibly smaller than elsewhere. “Of course that also plays a role,” confirms the spokesman for the city of Bremerhaven.