The pandemic is not over yet, emphasizes Health Minister Lauterbach. He warns of outbreaks of the omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 in autumn. He therefore considers the plans for the Oktoberfest to be "daring". With another corona vaccine, Germany should be protected against an autumn wave.
The incidence in Germany is still around 400 – but after two years of the Corona compulsory break, the Oktoberfest in Munich is to take place again this autumn for the first time. From the point of view of Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, however, it was "daring" to say that the festival could take place as it always did, he told Bayerischer Rundfunk. The SPD politician warned that there was a certain probability that the Omikron variants BA.4 and BA.5 would be dealt with by then.
If there were new outbreaks of the variants, he could imagine that a completely unprotected Oktoberfest would be problematic again, says Lauterbach. However, at this point in time it is not possible to decide on a clear acceptance or rejection or on rules for the Oktoberfest. Munich's Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter announced at the end of April that there should be no corona restrictions at the festival on the Theresienwiese.
Criticism of Lauterbach's warning comes from Wiesn boss Clemens Baumgärtner. To first stand up and declare the pandemic situation over and "to say now that something might happen in the fall, I find irresponsible. That's not okay," said Baumgärtner on the radio station Gong 96.3. "Of course it's populist and popular when you, as Minister of Health, start talking about the Oktoberfest." However, there is also flu in the fall and it comes in a new variant every year - Lauterbach has never said anything about that, according to Baumgärtner.
In order to cover possible virus variants more broadly in autumn, Lauterbach has meanwhile announced that the federal government wants to order additional corona vaccines. "We have to be prepared for all eventualities," he said. A strategy adopted by the Federal Cabinet provides for a further 830 million euros to procure a preparation announced by the manufacturer Moderna, which works in different variants at the same time.
The pandemic is not over and the vaccines are needed, Lauterbach emphasized. "But we don't know which variants will confront us in the fall." Sufficient vaccine is available through contracts with the old government, which works against the original variant including the delta variant. A second vaccine from Biontech, purely adapted to the Omicron variant, has also been ordered. In addition, a preparation prepared by Moderna that works on both virus types should now be procured. Lauterbach emphasized that one lesson learned from the pandemic is never to have too little vaccine again.
(This article was first published on Wednesday, May 18, 2022.)