Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has promised preparations for comprehensive corona protection for the fall. “Unfortunately, the pandemic will not go into the summer break,” said the SPD politician on Thursday in the Bundestag. However, it is also not planned that the fight against the pandemic will take a summer break. “We must not and we cannot afford not to go into autumn well prepared a third time.” Everything necessary is therefore being done to deal with the situation. The opposition sharply criticized the coalition’s Corona course.
Lauterbach confirmed that after the planned summer wave, autumn would be difficult. A struggle with the now dominant BA.5 virus variant is to be expected, which also involves somewhat more severe courses than the previous omicron variant BA.1. Previous vaccines didn’t work perfectly to prevent infections, but they avoided deaths every day. “If we didn’t have the vaccines, we would be in a catastrophic situation.”
The coalition has now introduced a first draft law with provisions for the autumn to parliament. Among other things, this should enable a vaccination campaign aimed at people over 60 years of age – especially for second booster vaccinations, as Lauterbach made clear. A faster use of the drug Paxlovid, which could significantly reduce mortality and the probability of hospital admissions for infected people, should be regulated in the summer. Of around one million cans bought, less than 30,000 have been used.
Specifically, according to the draft, the legal basis for vaccinations should be extended until December 31st. The federal states should be able to regulate that hygiene officers are deployed in nursing homes. Lauterbach said that a “pandemic radar” should also be available in September and ensure better data. In addition to intensive care units, hospitals should also record free and occupied beds in normal wards and report them centrally. The aim is also an up-to-date “full recording” of PCR tests – i.e. all results, including the negative ones. So far, there is only a reporting requirement for positive tests.
The draft law does not yet contain a follow-up regulation for the corona provisions in the Infection Protection Act, which were significantly reduced in the spring and expire on September 23. Lauterbach said he personally expects a difficult situation in the fall. In any case, the necessary protective measures in place for different stages of the infection situation and good preparation for the winter should be guaranteed.
The Union health expert Tino Sorge (CDU) criticized that the coalition in the fight against the pandemic for the autumn had repeatedly experienced confusion. There are no concrete proposals in the draft law, so that measures knitted with hot needles are to be expected again in the autumn. In addition, Sorge complained about the “chaos” in quick tests, which are no longer free for everyone.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) sees a further need for vaccination in millions of people. “In addition to starting vaccinations for the unvaccinated, there is also a need to close vaccination gaps for those who have only been immunized so far,” says a new monthly report on vaccinations by an RKI team on Thursday. Around 1.3 million people aged 60 and over and around 7.9 million aged 18 to 59 would still have to refresh their vaccination protection with at least one vaccination.