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COVID-19

Germans will be ‘vaccinated, cured or dead’ after winter, minister claims

Most Germans will be "vaccinated, cured or dead" from Covid-19 in a few months, Health Minister Jens Spahn warned Monday as he urged more citizens to get jabbed.

Health Minister Jens Spahn holds a press conference
German Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) holds a press conference to discuss Covid vaccination on Monday, November 22nd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

“Probably by the end of this winter, as is sometimes cynically said, pretty much everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, cured or dead,” Spahn said, blaming “the very contagious Delta variant”.

“That is why we so urgently recommend vaccination,” he added.

The stark warning comes as Germany is racing to contain a record rise in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, with hospitals sounding the alarm about overflowing intensive care units.

Despite widespread access to free coronavirus vaccines, just 68 percent of the German population is fully vaccinated, a level experts say is too low to keep the pandemic under control.

Germany, the EU’s most populous country, added another 30,643 cases on Monday, according to the Robert Koch Institute health agency, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to just over 5.3 million.

Almost 100,000 people have died so far, including 62 over the past 24 hours.

“We have a very, very difficult situation in many hospitals,” Spahn said.

Germany last week announced tougher coronavirus curbs to contain the ferocious fourth Covid wave.

In regions with high hospitalisation rates, the unvaccinated will be barred from public spaces like cinemas, gyms and indoor dining.

Employees are asked to return to working from home whenever possible, while anyone going into the workplace has to prove they are vaccinated, recovered or have recently tested negative – a system known as “3G”.

The same rule applies on public transport in those areas.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany finalises new Covid restrictions for winter

Several of Germany’s hardest hit regions, including Bavaria and Saxony, have gone even further by cancelling large events such as Christmas markets and effectively barring the unvaccinated from non-essential public life.

All vaccinated adults have also been urged to get a booster shot to combat waning vaccine efficacy after six months. 

However, debates are currently raging over Spahn’s decision to limit the amount of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that doctors are able to order to 30 doses per week.

Unlimited doses of the “equally effective” Moderna vaccine will be available to plug the deficit, the Health Minister has claimed. 

Mandatory jabs? 

The worsening coronavirus has ignited a debate about whether Germany should follow Austria’s example and introduce mandatory vaccinations.

Spahn, who is in a caretaker position until Germany’s incoming new government is officially installed, told reporters he remained “sceptical” about mandatory jabs.

But health expert Karl Lauterbach from the centre-left Social Democrats, which narrowly won September’s general election, said he “can no longer rule it out” and it may even be unavoidable to defeat the Delta variant.

SPD Health Expert Karl Lauterbach
SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach has said that mandatory vaccination could help Germany achieve its vaccine targets. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

Bavarian premier Markus Soeder has echoed the sentiment, as have several other leading politicians.

Outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said it was “sensible” to at least have a discussion about mandatory jabs.

He stressed however, that it would be for the new government to make the decision.

The leaders of Germany’s 16 regional states have already said they want legislation to be introduced requiring health workers and those who care for the elderly and vulnerable to get Covid jabs.

READ ALSO: German politicians refuse to rule out compulsory Covid vaccination

Member comments

  1. What a disgusting statement made by Spahn – is this an appropriate level by a Minister for Health?
    Hope his forthcoming replacement is somewhat better.

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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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