Germany wants to generalize the third dose of the vaccine

Correspondent in Berlin



“We have very difficult weeks ahead,” said German Health Minister Jens Spahn, after meeting with regional health ministers and draw up a strategy to deal with the spike in infections, a “new uniform catalog of measures at the national level that can be applied until 19 March 2022”. The main measure proposed at the meeting is that all vaccinated people receive a booster vaccine as soon as possible, as they leave turning six months from the second dose, except in the case of Johnson & Johnson, which requires a shorter period between doses.

“Reinforcements after six months should become the rule, not the exception,” defended the acting minister, despite the recommendation of the Permanent Commission for Vaccination Stiko currently limited to booster shots for nurses only, immunosuppressed and older than 70 years.

The determination of antibody levels that is frequently discussed before a booster shot is medically quite unnecessary, added intensive care physician Uwe Janssens, as ultimately it does not say how good a person’s protection is against the virus.

Spahn has insisted that “thanks to the vaccines available, a significantly greater public life is possible” than in the previous year. The government continues to disregard mandatory vaccination so as not to increase the tensions and divisions already existing in society, although some regional governments are more inclined to implement it. Klaus Holetschek, Bavarian Health Minister, has complained that the pandemic situation is “sometimes dramatic, always worrying and anything but clear.” Based on experiences like Israel’s, booster vaccines should, in principle, be possible for everyone after six months, has justified. Both Bavaria and Berlin are already reopening the vaccination centers closed at the end of September due to lack of public influx, hoping to start delivering the third dose as soon as possible.

While waiting for the conclusion of the negotiation of the “semaphore coalition”, which very possibly will form the next federal government under the leadership of Olaf Scholz, the regional ministers have met to discuss, a “Uniform catalog of measures at the national level” with which to replace the regulations of the State of Emergency, that expires this November. The burden on nursing staff is currently enormous, due to the high occupancy rate of intensive care units and a lack of staff, according to experts from the health system have informed ministers, who have decided to create incentives for the profession to do so. as soon as possible, through work grants to increase the income of staff who work directly with Covid patients.

In a generalized way, they have agreed to extend the 3G regulation as much as possible, which limits access to vaccinated, tested or cured of Covid, at the same time they have agreed that places where “especially vulnerable people live” should receive a special protection. In nursing homes and healthcare facilities the mandatory test concepts will remain, not only for the staff but also for the visitors. This must be monitored with “security gates” at the entrances provided with digital readers of the Covid certificates. The tests, which had ceased to be free in November as a measure of pressure towards vaccination, will be offered again to German citizens as far as the individual Bundesländer can.

Furthermore, as Saxony regional president Michael Kretschmer has warned, the closures could be necessary again if politics does not quickly show evidence of their ability to reduce hospitalizations. Thuringian President Bodo Ramelow has made a dramatic call to avoid overloading hospitals: “In the coming days we will reach the situation that we no longer have enough intensive care beds” and has been in favor of establishing the 2G regulation at the national level, which would limit access to closed spaces to vaccinated and cured of Covid and would reject , therefore, to those only tested.

The parties that are negotiating the governing coalition, the Liberals of the FDP, the Greens and the Social Democrats of the SPD, have agreed to allow the nationwide state of emergency to expire on November 25. There should, therefore, be no further extensions. A committee will discuss a bill, after listening to experts, and will regulate the transition period after the election of the Bundestag, to give continuity to the protection policies against the pandemic. Once in force, most of the restrictions and violations of fundamental rights can no longer be applied, while hospitals report that, of the Covid patients admitted to intensive care, approximately half do not survive.

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