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Jeff Cercone
By Jeff Cercone January 7, 2022

A report about omicron cases in Germany was based on an incorrect number

If Your Time is short

  • A report by the Robert Koch Institute published on Dec. 30 was corrected on Jan. 3.

  • Initially it said there were only 186 new cases of omicron among unvaccinated people in the previous week, but the number was actually 1,097.

  • A spokesperson for the Robert Koch Institute cautioned against drawing conclusions about the effectiveness of the vaccine using these figures due to Germany’s  high rate of vaccination. 

A conservative news site and others on social media jumped on a report out of Germany that appeared to show that the vast majority of people who tested positive for the omicron variant of COVID-19 were fully vaccinated.

But those claims were made based on an error in the report that has since been corrected. 

A headline in The Gateway Pundit reads "Germany: 96% of Latest Omicron Patients were FULLY Vaccinated – Only 4% Unvaccinated."

The Dec. 30 Koch report Gateway Pundit was referring to said it detected 4,020 omicron cases among fully vaccinated people and 186 omicron cases among unvaccinated people. But Koch corrected those numbers on Jan. 5, saying the number of cases among those who were unvaccinated was actually 1,097.

Using these corrected figures and the same mathematical processes that Gateway Pundit used as the basis for its headline, it would seem the percentage of omicron cases among unvaccinated people accounted for 21%, not 4% as the Gateway Pundit headline suggested.

But, even using those figures, a spokesperson for the Robert Koch Institute cautioned against drawing any sort of conclusion from the statistics about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.  

"The effectiveness of the vaccination cannot be calculated from these figures," spokesperson Susan Glasmacher told us in an email. "For that, you have to take into account the number of vaccinated people in the population."

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Germany has administered more than 152 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to its population and reports 71.6% of its population is fully vaccinated, including 87% those over 60. Nearly 42% of those who are vaccinated have also received a booster shot. 

If a country’s vaccination rate is high, it is expected that the relative proportion of fully vaccinated people among all COVID-19 patients is also high. PolitiFact has tackled similar misleading claims about the rate of COVID-19 infection in the United Kingdom, where vaccination rates are also high, especially in older populations.

Snopes fact checkers said the initial 4% claim that we also found in the Gateway Pundit story  came from a German journalist who calculated that from the incorrect report and has since tweeted a correction.

PolitiFact reached out to the author of the Gateway Pundit story, who did not respond to us. But while we were working on the check, the story was updated with a correction.

Our ruling

A Gateway Pundit article said that in Germany, 96% of new omicron cases were from fully vaccinated people.

That calculation was based on incorrect numbers in a report from the Robert Koch Institute. It initially said there were 186 cases among unvaccinated people but later corrected the report to show there were 1,097 cases. The institute also cautioned against drawing conclusions about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines based on this research as it does not account for the nation’s high rate of vaccination. 

We rate this claim False.


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A report about omicron cases in Germany was based on an incorrect number

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