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COVID-19

Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Christian Drosten, head of virology at Berlin’s Charite University Hospital, has warned that “a very tough winter with new shutdown measures” awaits Germany due to the rapid spread of coronavirus.

Christian Drosten, head of virology at Charite Hospital in Berlin.
Christian Drosten, head of virology at Charite Hospital in Berlin. Photo: dpa | Rolf Vennenbernd

If Germany does not immediately return to tough contact restrictions at least 100,000 people will die, Drosten predicted on his NDR podcast, adding that “that is a conservative estimate”.

“We have a real emergency situation now,” he said. “We need to do something immediately.”

Drosten’s gloomy warning came as the country recorded yet another record day of cases with 39,676 new infections confirmed.

Hospitals are also slowly filling up with Covid patients again. The Charite Hospital in Berlin, one of the largest hospitals in the country, confirmed on Tuesday that it was postponing all non-critical operations.

Drosten said that the German government would need to discuss measures “that we actually hoped to have behind us”.

“We probably have to control the spread of infection again through contact restrictions – not probably, but certainly,” he added.

But he admitted that sweeping national contact restrictions could face problems in the courts.

READ ALSO: What to do if you get a red alert on Germany’s Covid warning app

Doubts over testing

“You could go for booster vaccinations instead of contact restrictions,” Drosten said. “That’s something I really believe in, too.”

However, he admitted that that would take time. In the long term, he said, the “ideal goal” must be to have “a population completely vaccinated three times over”.

He raised doubts about both 2G and 3G entry rules into venues. 3G, which allows vaccinated (geimpft), recovered (genesen) and negative tested people (getestet) to enter facilities such as restaurants, could lead to an unvaccinated person catching the virus from a vaccinated person, he said.  

Health experts say people who are unvaccinated are more likely to suffer a severe course of Covid-19 if they get it, and this group also make up the majority of patients in intensive care wards. 

Meanwhile, 2G closes the “back door” of the testing option, but it shifts contacts into the private sphere. Since vaccinated people can also pass on the pathogen, “the virus will simply come into the home,” Drosten said.

German politicians and health experts are divided on which Covid health pass entry rules are the best path for the country. 

Drosten further slammed a plan by the government-in-waiting to bring back free testing as a means of avoiding new lockdowns. “Tests are being put forward as an emergency brake to break the wave. But that won’t be enough.”

He added that the only way out of the pandemic was to “close the gaps” in vaccination by reaching people who hadn’t yet been inoculated.

SEE ALSO: Why are so many Germans reluctant to get vaccinated?

Member comments

  1. I dont see why I should be locked down again because of stupid morons that refuse to be vaccinated. It clearly needs to be mandated.

  2. Yes. The virus is here to stay. It WILL be in our homes at some point…period. Best is to get vaccinated and get us all back to living a normal life. No masks, no contacts, no vaccine passports. If you choose to not be vaccinated, that’s your problem. You may get sick and die. Tough. Isn’t time to get back to treating adults like adults Germany?

    1. The unvaccinated are already overwhelming the hospitals. You can’t lift all restrictions and say it’s not our problem. Masks shouldn’t go away for a long time, but 2G/3G is a silly debate given most places don’t even check for anything.

      1. Then its time to FORCE places to stick to the 2G rules or face closure. And I agree regarding the masks. They shouldnt be ditched anytime soon.

      2. That’s not correct. Both the unvaccinated and vaccinated are overwhelming the hospitals. It’s obvious at this point that the vaccines are not as effective as they were portrayed.
        Here’s a good example–in Tübingen, half of the Bach Choir half been infected with Covid. 100% of the members were vaccinated:

        https://www.swr.de/swraktuell/baden-wuerttemberg/bachchor-infiziert-100.html

        Furthermore, forcing extreme measures, such as 2G (and 2G plus soon, where even vaccinated and recovered have to test) will cause more infections. The reason for this is because as more places restrict access, people will find riskier environments to congregate in.

        Lastly, Sweden, one of the European countries that that did not impose restrictive measures on its population (not even masking) has one of the third lowest cases of Covid, while Ireland, one of the countries with the highest number of vaccinated and 2G) has some of the highest number of infections…

        1. 90% of those in ICUs are unvaccinated. Stop finding excuses for not doing the right thing. I dont see why i should be locked down again because of your irresponsible behaviour

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COVID-19 RULES

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

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