Vaccinated people are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are unvaccinated, Germany’s top health expert said on Wednesday.
Professor Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), said vaccines continue to offer strong protection against COVID-19, despite the emergence of new variants such as the Delta strain.
“The risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 is 10 times less likely among vaccinated people compared to those who are unvaccinated,” he told a news conference in Berlin.
Wieler said a RKI study found vaccinations prevented at least 38,000 deaths and 77,000 hospitalizations in Germany between January and July this year.
Nearly 20,000 people were saved from landing in intensive care units, he added.
“Vaccines are our most powerful tool against COVID-19,” he stressed, adding that the jabs protect not only recipients but also others by slowing the spread of an infectious disease and curbing new variants.
Wieler called on people who are still undecided to get vaccinated against COVID-19 without delay, saying Germany may face a big resurgence in the fall and winter if it fails to meet its vaccination target in the coming weeks.
“If we cannot significantly increase the current vaccination rates, the current fourth wave of the pandemic can take a fulminant course in autumn,” he warned.
Some 54.9 million people in Germany, or 66% of the population, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine so far, while 51.2 million, or 61.7%, have been fully vaccinated.
The government is aiming to vaccinate 70% of the population by the end of September, but seems set to miss the goal as the pace of the rollout has slowed down in recent weeks.