More than two years of pandemic and there is still no profound database on the corona virus in Germany. According to experts, this will become a problem by autumn at the latest. However, should BA.5 spread as quickly in this country as in Portugal, the next wave would already roll in the summer.
The omicron wave in Germany has hardly ebbed away when the next subtype is already dampening hopes of a corona-free summer: BA.5 is on the rise in Europe. Experts assume that the variant is no more dangerous than its predecessors BA.1 and BA.2, but more contagious. In Portugal, BA.5 has already skyrocketed the number of infections.
In Germany, on the other hand, the situation still looks relaxed - at least that's what the figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) say. The problem here is that the data situation is still very incomplete. Experts have been assuming for some time that there will be a large number of cases not recorded by the RKI - mainly because not all infected people have a PCR test done. Only positive PCR tests count in the statistics. In addition, late registrations or transmission problems of the federal states can lead to a distortion of individual daily values.
"In the last two and a half years we have experienced a real data blind flight, which was not a good basis for rational decisions," says Doctor President Klaus Reinhardt of the Funke media group. The occupancy of hospital and intensive care beds can only be realistically forecast if there is clarity about the actual course of infection. The federal government should therefore adopt the advice of its experts and finally systematically collect and evaluate data on infection dynamics, disease severity and the burden on the health system.
In its statement published on Wednesday, the 19-strong Corona Expert Council called for such data collection, among other things. Reinhardt added that certainty was also needed as to how effective the measures taken in the past had been: "Because the population will only accept renewed restrictions if they are proven to be necessary and effective," said the President of the Medical Association. The findings from the evaluation of the corona measures, which should be available at the end of the month, should therefore also be incorporated into further planning.
By autumn and winter at the latest, the Expert Council expects the healthcare system to be under considerable strain again. He recommends a legal basis for quick reactions to possibly increasing numbers of infections in autumn and winter and urges long-term improvements - for example in data analysis and forecasting. The Council also calls for uniformity - namely central coordination of the pandemic measures between the federal and state governments and nationwide communication of all existing regulations and recommendations as quickly and uniformly as possible.
The Bonn virologist Hendrik Streeck hopes for political decisions that correspond to the proposals of the expert council. That's what Streeck said on ARD. Regardless of whether there is a summer corona wave or not, preparations for the fall have to be made anyway. Politicians have many protective instruments such as vaccination and masks at hand. "We can prepare for anything," said Streeck.
When asked how he felt about the possibility of a new lockdown, he said: "I would not recommend a lockdown." This was also not mentioned in the opinion of the Expert Council. Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach had previously emphasized that the statement would become the "basis for the federal government's Corona autumn plan".