The vaccination campaign in Germany has lost pace, but more and more citizens are considered to be fully protected. After Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) was able to announce on Saturday that there are now also enough vaccines for everyone, the question of what can, may and even must be lifted and when becomes more urgent. For example, Saarland's Minister President Tobias Hans (CDU) called for a further relaxation of the Corona rules as vaccination rates rise significantly. "When everyone has received a full vaccination offer and vaccination protects against severe courses of even newer variants, we must gradually roll back our Corona measures," the head of government told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
In Germany, more than 42 percent of the total population is now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, and more than 58 percent have received at least the first dose.
CSU Secretary General Markus Blume and the head of the Hamburg CDU, Christoph Ploß, argued similarly. Blume said: "As soon as every citizen has received a complete vaccination offer and the vaccination protection also remains effective, the overall responsibility passes from the state back to the individual citizen. This means that with vaccination protection for all, the time of restrictions for all also ends. However, we are not at that point yet."
Ploß added: "Hardly anyone who has been fully vaccinated will continue to accept the restriction of their basic rights and freedoms when everyone has been offered vaccination. For the fully vaccinated, the restrictions must fall at the latest then."
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) had also recently spoken out in favor of lifting all Corona restrictions as soon as all people in Germany have received an offer of vaccination. This is expected to happen in the course of August, he said.
FDP leader Christian Lindner said: "The state government in NRW, which is supported by the FDP, is showing the right way. A normalization of social life is responsible and necessary. In doing so, it is absolutely right to largely lift the mask requirement and only maintain it in the really sensitive areas, such as buses and trains."
Minister President Hans also joined the demand of intensive care physicians and business associations, among others, to no longer look only at the incidence value, which has been the yardstick for requirements and relaxations, when evaluating the Corona situation. "As more people are vaccinated and tested, the incidence value alone becomes less meaningful," Hans explained. Therefore, the focus should be more on intensive care bed occupancy in hospitals in the fall.
Spahn is demanding more information from hospitals on this point and has expanded the reporting regulation to this end, as "Bild am Sonntag" (BamS) reported. According to this, the age, type of treatment and vaccination status must be reported for all corona patients treated in the hospital.
"Since the at-risk groups are already vaccinated, a high incidence does not automatically mean an equally high burden in intensive care beds," Spahn said. "We want to know who is getting sick and how well they are protected. That's the only way we can assess in a timely manner how high the burden on the health care system will be and how well vaccinations work."Because of the delta variant, which is also becoming increasingly widespread in Germany and is considered to be up to 60 percent more contagious than the original coronavirus, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) assumes that so-called herd immunity will not be achieved until a vaccination rate of 85 percent is reached. However, according to a survey conducted by the Insa opinion research institute for BamS, 17 percent of people in Germany say they have not yet been vaccinated and do not want to be vaccinated.
On Sunday, the RKI reported a rising seven-day incidence for the fifth day in a row, but at a very low level compared to countries such as the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Spain. On Sunday, the figure was 6.2 new infections in seven days per 100,000 inhabitants (previous day: 5.8; previous week: 5.0). Within one day, there were 745 new infections. A week ago, there were 559 infections. In addition, six new Covid 19 deaths were registered.However, the calls for relaxation are also countered by cautionary voices. Hesse's Minister President Volker Bouffier, for example, advises caution. "First of all, we should wait at least three months, because then we will know better what the effects of the delta variant and the travel returnees will be. I therefore consider a further mask requirement to be a lesser restriction when weighed against the possible effects," the CDU politician told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
The SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach also warned against too rapid relaxation in view of the delta variant. "We must not make the mistake of opening up too much," he told the Editorial Network Germany. He added that particular caution must be exercised in indoor meetings. The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, is moving too quickly in opening up. There, he says, there is an intermediate stage between the measures otherwise in force in Germany and those in England.
Virologist Alexander Kekulé of the University of Halle wrote on Twitter that to maintain the low incidence in Germany, it would require "5 days of quarantine for unvaccinated entrants from fallen vacation countries" with immediate effect. After that, a PCR test would have to be carried out.
Wolfgang Schäuble, President of the German Bundestag, also called on people to continue to be vigilant. "I see with great concern what is going on in the soccer stadium at Wembley or in some vacation resorts," the CDU politician told BamS. He added that those who behave irrationally and do not take precautions are exposing everyone to the danger of a fourth wave. "Therefore: dear people, be happy that we can go out to eat again, meet people, but don't overdo it," the parliamentary speaker warned.At the same time, Schäuble warned against new school closures and spoke out in favor of vaccinating young people. "You should vaccinate younger people if they want it. If by vaccinating 12- to 17-year-olds we manage to avoid restrictions on schooling, then that is a weighty argument," Schäuble stressed.
Schäuble went on to say, "And before we risk having to close schools again, I am in favor of continuing to wear masks indoors. For me, it would be appalling if we came back to a lockdown that affects the youngest." Closing daycare centers, schools and universities is anything but harmless, he said. "The restrictions for children and young people are massive," the Bundestag president made clear.
SPD leader Saskia Esken and Green caucus leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt also called for a focus on younger people. "The health as well as the educational and development opportunities of the younger generation must now be in the foreground," Esken told the newspapers of the Funke Media Group. "The younger generation has now gone without many things for more than a year out of consideration for the older generation, now it can expect the same consideration from the predominantly vaccinated older adults." Göring-Eckardt said, "We are running headlong into a second Corona autumn, and once again the federal government is doing far too little to safeguard daycare centers and schools. Children, young people and their families are once again in danger of being forgotten."
Image by Gerd Altmann