Corona Expert Council calls for new Infection Protection Act

On Wednesday, the Federal Government’s Corona Expert Council urgently called for comprehensive preparations to counter a possible new wave of pandemics in autumn. “The pandemic is definitely not over, so it makes sense to prepare for the fall,” said Heyo Kroemer, the panel’s chair.

It was said that it was not yet possible to foresee which measures would be required in concrete terms. This depends on the development of the infection situation and the formation of possible new virus variants. The experts named three different scenarios: In the best-case scenario, a virus variant that causes less disease than the currently most common omicron variant would dominate. In such a case, more comprehensive protective measures are not necessary or only necessary for risk groups, the scientists conclude. Even in this case, however, an increasing number of infections, absences from work and a burden on the healthcare system are to be expected.

In the second, the “basic scenario”, the burden of disease would remain comparable to the current situation – the number of infections would then increase so much that mask requirements and distance requirements would have to be reintroduced. In the third, the most unfavorable scenario, a virus variant would occur in which fully vaccinated people without previous illnesses would also be confronted with severe courses if they did not receive a fourth vaccination. No one can predict which of these three scenarios will materialize in the fall, so the country must be prepared for all possibilities, experts said.

According to the committee’s report, this preparation should include better data collection and uniform communication by politicians – both of which have so far been insufficient. In addition, a new infection protection law is needed that enables measures such as mask requirements and access restrictions if necessary. The current infection protection law expires at the end of September, what should happen after that is controversial among the traffic light parties. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) wants a new law that would allow comprehensive protective measures again. But he encounters resistance from the FDP. Liberals want a scientific basis before deciding on future action. In addition to the opinion of the Expert Council, the assessment of another body, the Corona Expert Council, could therefore also be decisive for Lauterbach’s negotiating position. At the end of June, the Council of Experts is due to give its assessment of which corona measures made sense in the past. A first draft of the statement was critical in relation to numerous protective measures.

In addition to all the warnings, the expert council also emphasized on Wednesday that the starting position before the fall was better than in the past two years. The population has built up good immune protection. Without the vaccination, there would also be much higher numbers of illnesses and deaths with the currently rampant omicron variant.

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