Local news translated – Nov 17, 2020

Daily Host Nation Update November 17 2020

Pandemic situation in Stuttgart remains tense

In view of the continuing very high number of new corona virus infections, the pandemic situation in Stuttgart remains tense. With up to 1,000 new positively tested persons per week, each with two to four contact persons, the effort required to track the infection chains is correspondingly high, the head of the municipal health office, Stefan Ehehalt, made clear on Monday in the Social Committee of the municipal council.

Between 55 and 85 percent of those affected showed symptoms, eleven percent of them needed hospital treatment, and 17 percent of them needed ventilation, the head of the office explained the situation. He praised the “outstanding” deployment of the German Armed Forces, which supports the city with 60 troops in tracing chains of infection. At present, “about 300 cases are still open,” the head of office admitted. “We have a backlog of one to two days.”

The situation in the Stuttgart hospitals is “stable.” The pandemic situation worsened significantly in October. Since then, the number of people who have died with or as a result of the virus has grown from 67 deaths to 92. Two thirds of the deaths are men (average age 77 years), one third women (on average 84 years old). About 43 percent of all Stuttgart residents who died with or from Covid-19 had previously lived in seniors’ home. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Nov 17)

Companies leading the fight against the coronavirus

On November 9, the German-American partners Biontech/Pfizer made history. With the first interim results from their test completed, they are the first to raise realistic hopes for a corona vaccine. They are using a brand new technology that uses reprogrammed human genetic material to stimulate the immune system. While the technology was developed in Germany, U.S. partner Pfizer, with currently estimated annual sales of more than $50 billion, considers itself strong enough to operate largely outside the U.S. governmental vaccine program. The company is also going its own way when it comes to logistics. This is quite complex with the vaccine, which has to be cooled to minus 70 degrees Celsius. The EU has secured access to 300 million doses from the production volume of 1.3 billion planned for 2021.

The US company Moderna, which was only founded in 2010, uses the same innovative technology – based on human genetic material – as Biontech/Pfizer. It has now taken just a few days longer to present results with similar efficacy. One advantage of Moderna’s vaccine is that it only requires cooling the preparation to minus 20 degrees. However, with sales of $233 million in the first nine months of this year, the company is in a different league to Pfizer. Moderna cooperates with the U.S. National Institutes of Health and has also received more than a billion dollars in government funding for its development. Like Biontech/Pfizer, Moderna has already concluded supply contracts for the vaccine in advance, for example with the USA and Japan. Talks are still underway with the EU for a delivery of 160 million doses.

The Tübingen company Curevac is only just beginning the final phase of testing its vaccine, but as a pioneer of the so-called mRNA technology, Curevac is another figurehead of German biotechnology alongside Biontech. For strategic reasons, the German government has even contributed 300 million euros. Despite still only being in the earlier development stage of the Curevac vaccine, the EU has already secured access to more than 400 million doses, including options – a third more than Biontech/Pfizer. According to initial study results, the Curevac vaccine is slightly less well-tolerated than Biontech’s but is said to have advantages because it can be stored at refrigerator temperatures.

Swedish company Astra Zeneca, which cooperates with the British University of Oxford and uses a proven technology based on non-infectious viruses, was also an early starter in the vaccine race. Nevertheless, it will only make it into the approval process behind Biontech and Moderna, whose preliminary phase has started in both the USA and the EU. Astra Zeneca has experienced a delay due to a pending disease of two study participants, especially in the US where the trial lasted several weeks. However, the company is also among the front runners in terms of preliminary contracts. Including options, the volume negotiated with the EU is 400 million vaccine doses. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Nov 17)

Sindelfingen tightening controls within its city limits

The infection rate in Sindelfingen continues to develop dynamically. In order to ensure compliance with current regulations for the containment of the corona virus, the municipal public order office is intensifying controls in the city area. The public order office is increasingly monitoring compliance with the regulations, especially the obligation to wear masks – for example in public transport and crowded areas. In the event that people don’t comply with the public order office’s request, they will have to face fines. (BB/Sifi Kreiszeitung, Nov 17)

Health authorities close to their limits

The German public health officers are dissatisfied with the postponement of concrete corona decisions by the federal and state governments until next week. On the one hand, they can understand “that one is trying to get ahead with appeals”, said the chairwoman of the Federal Association of Public Health Doctors, Ute Teichert, on WDR. “But on the other hand the health authorities are really up to their limits. Therefore “uniform resolutions would have been very helpful for us.” (Ntv, November 17)

Teachers’ association criticizes postponement of school decisions

The President of the German Teachers’ Association, Heinz-Peter Meidinger, has criticized the postponement of decisions on further corona measures in schools. “I fear that the adjustments will now come too late and warn against school closures as the final consequence,” Meidinger told the “Rheinische Post” newspaper. Even before Chancellor Angela Merkel had met with the state premiers, the federal government had initially taken concrete proposals for tighter regulations at schools off the table again. (Ntv, November 17)

Non-Corona News

Full closure of the Darmsheim tunnel

The tunnel near Darmsheim (L1182 toward Singen) will be fully closed during the night from Tuesday, November 24, 11 p.m., to Wednesday, November 25, until 4.30 a.m. for maintenance work. A detour signposting will be set up during this time. (Böblinger zeitung, Nov 17)

“Lateral Thinking” demonstrations show signs of radicalization

The state government in Baden-Württemberg is increasingly critical of the development of “lateral thinking” demos. “There are signs that the movement is becoming radicalized,” said Minister President Winfried Kretschmann on Tuesday. The participants in the demonstrations were being “increasingly infiltrated by radical right-wing forces.” The government, he said, wanted to continue to focus its attention on the movement, which is rebelling against the Corona regulations. Winfried Kretschmann called the statement of an eleven-year-old girl who had compared her restricted birthday party at a “lateral thinking” demonstration with the situation of the Jewish girl Anne Frank during World War II “absurd.” The child had read out a speech on stage in Karlsruhe on Saturday, in which she said that the birthday party with her friends had been quite different from the years before because of the corona restrictions. Currently the public prosecutor’s office is investigating whether this case constitutes a criminal offense, because the freedom of speech doesn’t cover Holocaust denial. Anne Frank died in the spring of 1945 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the age of 15. (Canstatter Zeitung, November 17)

Bird flu hits the poultry industry hard this year

The bird flu has reached one of the largest poultry farmers in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. As a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture in Schwerin said on Tuesday, the H5N8 virus was detected in a barn of the company near Gnoien. The company keeps about 70,000 laying hens at several locations in the region. In order to fight the animal epidemic, all animals at all locations will presumably have to be killed, a spokesperson for the Rostock district said on Tuesday morning. The preparations had started, he said. According to the Minister of Agriculture, Till Backhaus (SPD), this means that around 100,000 animals at livestock farms in the northeast are now affected. Preparations for a killing ran also with a PUT owner in Rothenkirchen with Rambin, where approximately 16,000 animals should be killed. In a farm near Neubukow, 3,000 hens and 650 ducks have already been slaughtered. According to experts, this year it is a very aggressive form of the virus. (Canstatter Zeitung, November 17)

German companies ranked in popularity by employees

First place goes to the drugstore dm from Karlsruhe. The company employs around 41,000 people in its more than 2000 stores. According to StepStone coworkers praise in particular the Unternehmenskultur. An employee writes for example: “Company philosophy and the cooperation are outstanding. With the evaluations dm reaches 4,6 from possible five stars.

With 4.5 stars, Techniker Krankenkasse follows in second place. The insurance company employs about 14,000 people at over 200 locations. The evaluations praise the work-life balance, an appropriate salary, as well as the “high degree of creative freedom” and the “diverse range of tasks”.

The Ford production facilities have secured themselves third place. More than 2500 engineers, designers and technicians work in the four plants in Cologne-Niehl, Cologne-Merkenich, Saarlouis and Aachen. Among other things, the car manufacturer scores points with appropriate remuneration. On the job platform, one employee praised the “flexibility of the workplace, dynamic, young teams, broad development opportunities in a wide range of areas and the international environment.

Porsche AG ranks fourth and is thus one of the most popular employers in Germany. More than 35,000 employees work for the Stuttgart car manufacturer. In the ratings (4.4 stars), the varied range of topics in the job scores points. For example: “The company offers a very extensive field of activity, a great brand, a pleasant atmosphere in an international environment.” Appropriate pay and a great corporate culture also stand out in the evaluations.

Evonik Industries AG also made it into the top five. The company has over 35,000 employees worldwide, who rate their employer with 4.4 stars. The employees assess the corporate culture and the location positively and are satisfied with the social benefits.

Ranks six to ten are occupied by Merck KgaA, Bayer AG, BMW Group, Deloitte and Roche Deutschland. (Canstatter Zeitung, November 17)