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Coronavirus

Texas In Germany? Saxony Mixes Anti-Vaxxers And Far-Right Politics

When it comes to vaccination rates, there are striking parallels between Germany and the United States. The states with the most opposition to vaccines differ politically from those with the highest vaccination rates. Now the consequences for booster shots are starting to become visible, especially in the United States.

photo of man speaking in megaphone at protest in Saxony

A protest in Saxony last year against COVID-19 restrictions

Zentralbild/dpa via ZUMA
Daniel Friedrich Sturm

-Analysis-

WASHINGTON — Ok, so Saxony was singled out last week in a New York Times article as an example of the disastrous vaccination situation in parts of Europe. The article talks about the link between anti-vaxxers and the political success of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the eastern German state.

In a sense, Saxony is Germany's Texas. For instance, 59% of U.S. citizens are fully vaccinated, but in strictly Republican Texas, where Donald Trump overwhelmingly won the 2020 election, this figure stands at 54%.


In Germany, 68% are fully vaccinated, while in Saxony it is only 58%. In Saxony, the AfD was the strongest party in the recent general elections. It achieved 25%, but only 10% nationwide. Leading representatives of the AfD and U.S. Republicans are questioning the sense of vaccines against COVID-19.

COVID-19 deniers and conspiracy theorists are gathering in their ranks. The vaccination rate is generally lower in the Germany's East than in the West — similarly to the difference between Eastern and Western Europe.

New infections multiply

Meanwhile, more than 750,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. — Republican Mississippi tops the list of all 50 states with deaths per capita. In Germany, the COVID-19 death toll is approaching 100,000 people. More people have fallen victim to the pandemic per capita in the U.S. than in Germany.

In terms of the number of new infections, however, Germany recently outstripped the U.S. by a wide margin. Earlier in November, 53,000 new infections were registered in Germany in one day, compared to 114,000 in the U.S. Per capita, that's about twice as many in Germany as in the United States.

It is also noteworthy to mention which federal German and U.S. states lead the way in vaccination coverage. In Bremen, in the north of Germany, over 79% are fully vaccinated. It is the prime example of a politically leftist state. The Hanseatic city of Bremen, the state's capital city, has had a Social Democratic Party (SPD) mayor since World War II and currently has a red-red-green coalition government.

Role of political parties

The second place, in terms of vaccination coverage, is occupied by the state of Saarland, close to France. Saarland has 74% vaccination rates and it is governed by a Christian Democratic (CDU)/SPD coalition that is more welfare-state-oriented than elsewhere in the country. The SPD stronghold of Hamburg follows in third place.

And in the U.S.? Leading the way on vaccination rates is the state of Vermont (72%), which Joe Biden won in the election with a 30% lead over Trump. Vermont borders Canada — which has been successful with vaccinations — and is home to Bernie Sanders, the most left-wing of all 100 senators.

Most of the successful states when it comes to vaccines are Democratic strongholds, such as Massachusetts and Connecticut. New York (68%) also has far more people fully vaccinated than the U.S. as a whole.

Booster shots in firing line

Another interesting element to consider is the number of booster shots. In several northern, predominantly rural states of the United States, which have virtually no mask requirements, overall vaccination coverage is low and infection rates are high.

This suggests than an above-average number of people here are getting a booster vaccination to protect themselves from infected and careless fellow citizens. Such data can be found in Alaska, North Dakota and Montana — all of which are, by the way, governed by Republicans.

In the U.S., boosters are given to everyone older than 65, to 50-64-year-olds with pre-existing conditions, to residents of nursing homes and people in high-risk occupations. But there are different rules between states. In California, for example, all adults can now get a booster.

U.S. adults who are fully vaccinated say they will "definitely" (43%) or "probably" (24%) get a booster vaccination, according to a Kaiser Foundation poll. According to the survey, Democratic voters are more than twice as likely as Republican voters to say they will "definitely" get a booster if it is recommended (55% vs 26%).

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