(new: more details and backgrounds)
BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – The Federal Government’s Crown Expert Council recommends a legal basis for rapid response to a possible rise in infection in the fall and winter. Experts expect another significant burden on the health care system and critical infrastructure for the population and the state. The commission, operating since December on behalf of the federal and state governments, made its eleventh announcement, while clear differences are again emerging within the coalition over the future course of the crown.
The Federal Ministry of Health is now starting preparations to prepare a legal basis for the coronation measures in the fall, a spokesman confirmed. Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) stressed that the statement would “form the basis of the Corona federal government’s fall plan”. On the other hand, FDP leader Christian Lindner said on Tuesday night in the ARD that the planned assessment of the safeguards was to be expected: “There should no longer be any general restrictions on freedom.”
What the Council recommends:
“Fast-reacting pre-formulation” for fall and winter. In any case, the preparation requires, inter alia, “A solid legal basis for infection control measures.” Experts say: “The remaining vaccination gap and declining immunity over time, ongoing viral evolution, and the activity of other respiratory pathogens are likely to put another significant strain on the healthcare system and critical infrastructure in the fall and winter.”
What the Advisory Board enters in each register:
Uniformity is required – namely, central coordination of pandemic measures between federal and state governments and national communication of all existing laws and recommendations as quickly and uniformly as possible. Experts also advocate outpatients receiving antiviral drugs earlier than before.
How the Council envisions corona testing in the future:
If the infection situation is stable, testing should be limited to symptomatic cases, well-founded suspicions and protection of risk groups. According to the Council, there should be a test infrastructure that can be reactivated quickly in the fall. In hospitals and nursing homes, the council proposes regular screening for corona virus and influenza viruses.
How the Council assesses the situation in the fall:
Based on the high level of immunization in the population and the prevalence of virus variants with reduced disease severity, scientists are developing three scenarios: A new virus variant would be unfavorable, but possible – more infectious and with increased disease severity. Severe Covid courses can then occur even in people who are vaccinated without additional vaccination. Compulsory masks and distance requirements are likely to be required by spring 2023. According to Council chairman Heyo Kroemer, the need for contact restrictions would be “imaginable” but unlikely. “The pandemic is definitely not over,” said the head of Berlin’s Charité. In the opinion of the Council, a favorable scenario and a baseline scenario would have less severe effects.
Why are we still waiting for another expert advice:
The FDP insists on waiting for the planned scientific evaluation of previous restrictions “before we take individual measures prematurely,” Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) said in late May. In accordance with the Infection Protection Act, an expert committee was entrusted with the task of evaluation. Half of the experts appointed by the federal government and half by the Bundestag are expected to present their results by 30 June.
Why there was confusion around the evaluation panel:
In April, a stir was caused when Berlin virologist Christian Drosten withdrew from the committee. Drosten’s reason: the equipment and composition of the commission were not sufficient for a high-quality assessment. On the other hand, Drosten continues to be a member of the federal and state government’s expert council. The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that the draft evaluation was “already torn apart by specialist circles”. In the chapter on corona measures, the negative consequences would be overestimated. Kroemer, chairman of the expert council, was reluctant to anticipate the evaluation committee’s report: Although the council is convinced that “the state needs the right tools from our point of view” – but which “others are discussing it,” says Kroemer.
How the traffic light reacts:
Lauterbach said: “The board of experts has done an excellent job.” It is relatively certain that even in the most optimistic scenario, the healthcare system will come under heavy strain. “We must and will be prepared for all scenarios: with tailored testing, vaccination and treatment strategies and a solid legal framework.” FDP health expert Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus saw the announcement as a demand for a “change of strategy”. “Because after more than two years of a pandemic, we know there should be no general measures.” On the other hand, green parliamentary group leader Britta Haßelmann said the statement made it clear: “We must be prepared for a further increase in corona infections in the fall. We should take precautionary measures now.
What is especially important for the expert council:
Long-term improvements – namely in data analysis and forecasting, behavior and communication management and prevention. Intensive care physician Christian Karagiannidis said the goal was to move away from observing the 7-day incidence of a real-time digital image that would show the actual severity of the disease. Council chairman Kroemer said he expects parts of the statement to “soon become reality”, structural proposals rather step by step./bw/DP/jha