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.
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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.
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.