The Federal Government’s Corona Expert Council is urging the federal and state governments to prepare early and comprehensively for combating new waves of infection in autumn and winter.

“Foresighted preparation with short reaction times to changing infection situations reduces the (secondary) damage caused by the pandemic and is most effective in reducing morbidity and mortality,” says a comprehensive statement by the committee published on Wednesday.

“Therefore, all preventive, therapeutic and other measures should be aimed at the beginning of a new wave of infection in autumn in order to dampen it as early as possible,” write the experts.

The Expert Council names three possible scenarios for autumn and winter. In a “base model” it is assumed that the number of infectious diseases will increase. “Despite the moderate Covid-19 burden in intensive care medicine, the absences from work could again require nationwide measures to protect against transmission (masks and distance indoors), but also measures to reduce contact according to regional standards,” it says.

In a negative scenario, however, a declining immune effect could coincide with more dangerous corona variants, so that even fully vaccinated people could have a severe course of the disease. Then the health system would again be heavily burdened by Covid 19 cases in the intensive care and normal wards. In this case, necessary protective measures such as the obligation to wear masks and the requirement to keep distance could only be reduced in the spring of 2023.

In the most favorable scenario, new variants are said to be less dangerous, so that infection control measures are “no longer necessary or only necessary to protect people at risk”.

A temporary mask requirement “can be an effective and rapid tool for infection control,” the panel said. “It offers the highest level of self-protection and protection for others, especially indoors, with fewer individual limitations and can be used immediately.”

In general, the population “should be better informed about how sensible it is to protect themselves and others as much as possible when there is a high burden of respiratory illnesses in the winter months, and be motivated to do so”. This approach will “reduce morbidity, mortality and absenteeism from respiratory infections.”