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

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

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.

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. 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. 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

      2. 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. 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.

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