"We can’t vaccinate the pandemic away," says Streeck
Compulsory vaccination for medical facilities should protect the health care system from overload. But now exactly this threatens. Because many unvaccinated employees break away.
Source: WORLD/ Sebastian Plantholt
A n Wednesday, the Bundestag will for the first time discuss in detail the introduction of a general Corona vaccination obligation in Germany. On Tuesday evening, ZDF host Markus Lanz and his guests debated the arguments for and against vaccination.
The interesting constellation of the round thereby: two politicians in responsibility and a scientist, who advises the policy. Guests were Schleswig-Holstein’s Minister President Daniel Gunther (CDU), Tubingen’s Mayor Boris Palmer (Greens), Hendrik Streeck, a virologist at the University of Bonn and a member of the German government’s Council of Experts, and journalist Cerstin Gammelin, deputy editorial director for economic policy in the parliamentary office of the "Suddeutsche Zeitung" newspaper.
Both politicians are in favor of introducing compulsory vaccination. CDU Minister President Gunther it goes even too slowly. "Would also like us to make faster progress there," he said, complaining that federal policy is proceeding in a "hare-footed" manner. His reasoning for compulsory vaccination: It is the "only way" to permanently replace restrictions on fundamental rights in other areas.
Green Party Mayor Palmer saw it the same way. He pleaded in the broadcast for the introduction of compulsory vaccination and then soon to lift all Corona measures. The vaccination obligation should apply to people over the age of 50.
Palmer on Lanz: "I’ve honestly had enough"
The previous pandemic strategy no longer works with these "immense numbers of cases," Palmer explained further. "We need something other than an ever more bureaucratized individual case regulation, which creates absurd excesses." Palmer, who likes to say what he thinks, became clear: "I’m honestly fed up with it."
He is of the opinion that an overload of the health system is excluded as soon as a basic immunization of the population – with two or three vaccinations, he did not specify – is ensured. "We’re trading in all the old rules and replacing them with a single new rule: everyone must be vaccinated. Everyone understands," said Palmer. "If the vaccination obligation has worked – that would be feasible in two months, in my opinion – then all other rules away and live normally again."
Palmer did not accept the objection that Germany would not be able to implement compulsory vaccination. His solution: municipalities could write to all residents and ask for proof of vaccination after four weeks, otherwise a fine would have to be paid. "If there are now 5,000 additional violations due to compulsory vaccination," he said, referring to Tubingen, "I don’t even need to hire personnel."
"But we can’t vaccinate the pandemic away by doing that," says Streeck
So much for the political arguments. However, virologist Streeck has doubts about compulsory vaccination. He could understand the arguments. "But we can’t vaccinate the pandemic away by doing that," he stressed. "We see that very clearly with the variant development. We will have another wave next year as well."
Vaccination is self-protection. "A mistake in my eyes in the communication was from the beginning to say: we have a protection against the infection. It is a foreign protection, we get a herd immunity. We do not have that. The individual person protects himself, does something for the health care."
Palmer interjected: And all those vaccinated thus protected the system from overuse.
But that did not convince Streeck. Then why not finally address the staff shortage in the clinics?
Streeck: make convalescent status equal to vaccination status
His second criticism of mandatory vaccination had to do with convalescent status. "We treat that very stepmotherly," Streeck explained. "Although we actually know from the studies that on average reinfection occurs after 300 days."Those who have recovered have very good protection against a severe course of the disease, reinfection rarely occurs after vaccination. Hence his demand: vaccination status and convalescent status must be put on an equal footing.
The second step, he said, is then to accept antibody detection as proof of gene status. Then a Germany-wide study is needed: Who has Corona antibodies in their blood?? "We don’t know who has protection," Streeck said. "We don’t even know what percentage in the population we are actually talking about, with which we want to introduce such draconian measures as mandatory vaccination. I’m worried we’re running behind there to push something through, a vaccination wish quota."
Lanz wanted to ask whether Streeck had also brought his position to the expert council. But the scientist said only: "We have agreed secrecy about what we discuss." He added, however: "One must say, however, quite clearly: One would not like to advertise to be infected."Vaccination offers good protection.
Lanz: "There it is obviously about setting a trigger"
Palmer wanted to know from the researcher whether convalescents should be exempt from mandatory vaccinations. This is a political question, Streeck replied. He could not estimate how many recovered people there are in Germany. And once again repeated his rejection of compulsory vaccination: "Because we don’t do that with other medical issues either, with smoking, bad eating habits. I know I’m on difficult ground here. But preventive health care was always seen as something personal to Germany, not something ordered from the outside."
Even though Green Party politician Palmer disagreed, he was still fascinated by the discussion. Both, Palmer and Streeck, have polarized during the pandemic with their statements again and again. The Lord Mayor then also addressed this: "I find this totally exciting. Because in two years of this pandemic, I was always glad to see you on TV," he told Streeck. "So that the panic orchestra doesn’t play quite so loudly."
Streeck had long been defamed. "Now he sits on the council of experts and is fortunately recognized again." He could understand the explanations of the scientist, but stuck to his view: "For me, as a pragmatist who asks himself, how’s the city next fall… I need a solution now."