A comment by Stephan Richter, freelance author
It would be too good to be true: Simply stop looking at the daily infection numbers and Corona is only half as bad. Anyone who has always considered the so-called seven-day incidence to be a pretext for politics to justify measures against the spread of the virus, including lockdown, will be happy about the current rethinking in Berlin. Health Minister Jens Spahn no longer wants to make the number of new corona infections per 100,000 people within a week the sole measure of action. Other indicators such as the so-called hospitalization – i.e. the number of corona patients who have to be treated in hospitals – are to be added.
Like the rabbit on the snake
The step is correct because the progress in vaccination is linked to the hope that a new corona wave will result in less severe disease courses. In any case, a look at Great Britain so far shows that the health system there is less burdened than before the start of vaccinations, despite a new infection dynamic.
The move away from the incidence value as the sole guideline for political decisions ushers in a new phase. The expanded view of the corona events is a signal to no longer just stare at the infection numbers like the rabbit at the snake. After all, those who want to protect themselves from storms do not only observe amounts of precipitation.
Conduct a comprehensive impact assessment
The coronavirus will no longer go away completely. Learning to live with the dangers means taking a broader look at the infection process and carrying out a comprehensive impact assessment of all measures. The health of the population is not only determined by the seven-day incidence. Closed kindergartens and schools, exit bans or a lockdown of the economy can also make you sick.
That in no way means taking the risk of the corona virus, which is increasingly afflicting younger people with the delta variant, on a lighter shoulder. Ignoring data does not help anyone. The consequences of dealing too carelessly with the pandemic became clear at the end of the vacation period last year. The receipt was a new corona wave with thousands of deaths. Not to mention the long-term consequences that sufferers have to struggle with.
Nevertheless, the infection process must be looked at more broadly – precisely because many questions about the spread of the virus or the Covid 19 disease remain unanswered. How long does the immunization last after a full vaccination – and how does it work against new variants? That too is still unclear. Not to mention the effects that tough Corona measures have for young people, for example, who are not allowed to go to school for months.
There are no simple solutions
Dealing with Corona will not get any better if the daily news about the number of newly infected people disappears from the media. But the fight against the virus does not have to get worse if the informative value of the seven-day incidence is relativized. There are no simple solutions here either – unless, like British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, you abolish all corona rules without further ado. But this is a game with fire.
A responsible corona policy, on the other hand, relies on an ever wider range of early warning indicators. It was right to make the increase in the number of infections at the beginning of the pandemic the premise for action. But now more flexibility and creativity are required instead of the previously practiced automatism. This also applies to the national test strategy, which has by no means been exhausted.
And what about the citizens? They too are challenged. Anyone who only hides behind state corona orders does not do justice to personal responsibility. This begins with compliance with hygiene and distance rules, regardless of how high the seven-day incidence is. And it ends with vaccination. This is not about legal requirements, but about a moral obligation.
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