The Bundestag has now voted on corona protection for autumn and winter. More measures will apply again from October. But how necessary are these? A lot of people are discussing that. Because aren’t enough people immune by now? An overview of immunity in Germany.

Now it is almost final what the coming Corona period should look like. Measures for protection have been decided in the Bundestag. On September 16th it will still go through the Federal Council.

Even beforehand and now even more, people are discussing the sense and nonsense of the regulations. Opinions on this differ, even among experts. A central point here is the immune status. Viewed nationwide, it shows how well people in this country are protected against the corona virus. Either through infection or vaccination, many have built up immunity to Sars-CoV-2.

To say it straight away: How immune Germany actually is cannot be presented as a large picture. Because there is no data on this. A grievance that medical statistician Gerd Antes has criticized in discussions with FOCUS online since the beginning of the pandemic. However, little has changed since then. Other countries such as Great Britain are far better positioned here. The aim of the “Immunebridge” study is therefore to record the immune status in Germany. However, the results come too late for the new Infection Protection Act. The decisions on this were made completely independently of this.

However, some facets of the immune status in Germany can be illuminated. What is also remarkable about the immunity situation is that, on the one hand, studies and expert assessments show a high level of basic immunity. On the other hand, however, the proportions of those who estimate themselves not to have been infected are very high: 55 to 60 percent (Cosmo survey). Of course, it must be taken into account that the respective random samples certainly entail distortions.

An overview of how many people in Germany have developed antibodies against the corona virus is long overdue. Physician Antes regularly reminded us of this. The research project of the Institute for Virology at the University Hospital Bonn (UKB) and the University Medicine Göttingen (UMG) should now deliver this. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the “Immunebridge” study.

“According to official figures, 33 million people in Germany have recovered from Covid-19, but there is a considerable underrecording, which is estimated at 1.5 to 4 times the recorded cases, depending on the phase of the pandemic,” says Hendrik Streeck, Director of the Institute of Virology at the UKB. For the assessment of the pandemic risk situation next winter, an estimate of the number of people who have received basic immunization after vaccination or infection is of great importance. “As part of the network university medicine (“NUM”), we want to close this knowledge gap with the Immunebridge project in the short term,” said Streeck in June.

In this case, however, short-term in science does not go hand in hand with the short-term nature of political decisions. Because the study authors describe the interim results of August 8, 2022 as very preliminary. On Twitter, Streeck also denied allegations that data was being withheld. You are in the analysis.

A conclusion that the doctor Matthias Schrappe draws when asked by FOCUS Online: “The study shows that more than 95 percent of the people examined have already had contact with Sars-CoV-2 and/or the vaccine. The number of people is large enough to be considered a representative sample.”

Among other things, the study analyzes how many people have formed antibodies against the S antigen (during vaccination) and antibodies against the N antigen (during infection).

Important intermediate results are:

You can read more about this in the interim report.

How well someone is protected against an infection with Sars-CoV-2 or a severe course of Covid-19 depends on many factors. Antibodies are one of them. They offer some protection. There are still no fixed numbers as to how high the level of it in the blood (so-called titer) must be – even if high values ​​here indicate good immune protection. At the same time, the antibody titers drop after a few months – after an infection similar to after vaccination.

But the body reacts to the corona virus on many levels. The so-called cellular immune response lasts longer, but is also more difficult to measure.

In this respect, a study on the antibody status in Germany alone can provide an important facet, but cannot provide a comprehensive answer on the protection status.

The current Cosmo survey provides another piece of the puzzle for the picture of the immune status. Here Cornelia Betsch (Covid-19 Snapshot Monitoring) and her team recorded how often the respondents were already ill and vaccinated. Every vaccination and every disease counts as an “immunization” in the evaluation.

From this calculation it turned out that

Many people have hybrid immunization, i.e. a combination of vaccination and infection.

The Cosmo study also asked how many people were infected with Corona:

The majority of people in Germany, more than 50 percent, have apparently not been infected so far or at least not noticed it. “The causes are certainly diverse, and it would certainly be interesting to investigate them in detail,” writes physicist Viola Priesemann on Twitter. Reasons could be asymptomatic infections, effective protection or cross-immunity.

At the same time, the expert emphasizes an essential limitation: All of these figures should of course be treated with caution, since they are all based on self-disclosure.

Experts also asked questions about the infection situation on Twitter. The physicist Priesemann, for example, summarized the results that fit the Cosmo survey:

Bioinformatician Cornelius Römer and modeler Dirk Paessler also provide similar values.

As an example, Germany’s most populous federal state provides another facet for the immunity picture: According to an analysis by statutory health insurance physicians, almost every third NRW resident has already had a corona infection this year and has thus built up a certain immunity to the omicron variant. “In North Rhine-Westphalia there have been around 6.6 million reported laboratory-confirmed corona cases since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Viola Gräfe, who is responsible for data analysis at the North Rhine Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians. This also includes multiple infections. 5.2 million of all corona cases registered in NRW to date occurred in the current calendar year.

At the beginning of the year, the Delta variant still played a certain role. The vast majority of corona cases this year can be attributed to one of the various omicron subtypes, explained Gräfe. !function(){var t=window.addEventListener?”addEventListener”:”attachEvent”;(0,window[t])(“attachEvent”==t?”onmessage”:”message”,function(t){if (“string”==typeof

With 17.9 million residents in NRW and a little more than five million reported corona cases in the current year alone, one can say “that almost every third person has already had an omicron infection in the course of this year and thus one built up some immunity to the omicron variant.”

In addition, the data analyst at KV North Rhine added that a large part of the population had been immunized or boosted by a corona vaccination. The expected autumn wave will not hit a population that for the most part has not had any contact with the new type of corona virus, she explained.

By next Monday at the latest, the new vaccines from the manufacturers Biontech/Pfizer and Moderna, which have been adapted to the Omicron variant BA.1, will arrive in the medical practices that have ordered them, explained the head of KV North Rhine, Frank Bergmann.

This agrees with the assessment of the immunologist Carsten Watzl. In view of the numerous omicron infections, the expert assumes that the basic immunity in the population is very high. “The immunity of the adult population has now increased significantly, not only because of the vaccinations, but also because of the many omicron infections that have occurred,” the Secretary General of the German Society for Immunology told the “Augsburger Allgemeine” some time ago. “One can assume that it is already at 95 percent and that the starting position will be better this autumn.”

Even with good basic immunity, however, further vaccinations and hygiene measures cannot be dispensed with, emphasized the Dortmund professor. “It’s always about avoiding too many absences from illness, which cause problems in important areas, and also reducing the risk of vulnerable groups becoming infected,” said Watzl.

“With the campaign for the third vaccination as a booster, we have successfully vaccinated ourselves out of the delta wave,” explained the immunologist. “You could probably do that with adapted vaccines against omicron.” Ordinary hygiene measures may also be sufficient.

However, the newly developed Omikron vaccines are superior to the current vaccines as a booster. “The current vaccine acts like a refresher and with the fourth vaccination restores the protection that you had shortly after the third vaccination,” said Watzl. “However, initial study data show that the Omikron vaccines actually act like a booster: you have a significantly better immune response to Omikron than you achieved after the third vaccination.”

And ultimately, there is one big surprise factor for the cold season: How the corona virus will develop can hardly be predicted.

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