RKI boss Wieler counted? Traffic light doubt leaked

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From: Florian Naumann

Lothar Wieler (left) and Karl Lauterbach at a joint press conference. © Wolfgang Kumm/dpa

The recovered status is a home-made traffic light main construction site. The RKI around boss Lothar Wieler has a large share – apparently there are doubts about him.

Berlin – A decision by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has been keeping Germany in suspense for almost three weeks: Almost overnight, the RKI reduced the duration of the corona recovery status from six to three months in mid-January. This initially had noticeable consequences for many people in the country – and then provoked a never-ending cascade of political disputes.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) got caught in the crossfire, a Bundestag report attested to fundamental flaws in the regulation situation – and too much power for the RKI as an authority. But it is also clear that the scope for power must first be used. According to one report, the expected is now happening. In the traffic light coalition, RKI boss Lothar Wieler is in the line of fire. Apparently he’s counted.

Corona crisis: traffic light “discussions” about Wieler? Next “go it alone” could be too much

There are “discussions within the coalition” about Wieler, she wants Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) have experienced. According to the report, a replacement of the RKI President is not imminent. However, patience seems to be waning: “Another solo effort” is not possible for Wieler, the newspaper writes, citing sources in Berlin.

Wieler’s post could therefore be secured by concerns about further loss of confidence in the population’s pandemic policy. After all, the veterinarian has been a constant since the beginning of the pandemic. He also survived the change of ministers from Jens Spahn (CDU) to Lauterbach – and his RKI is basically one of the places that should be a confidante in the Corona crisis. A replacement of the boss could now damage the credibility of the institution, it is said SZ-Information the apprehension.

Corona in Germany: discrepancies between the RKI, traffic lights and the public – the gears grind

After all, the list of U-turns and communicative failures is long – from Stiko course changes to the Astrazeneca vaccine to the swerving course in terms of compulsory vaccination. Most recently, the Federal Government’s Expert Council even publicly called for better communication. Among other things, the committee missed a “fast-reacting, evidence-based, target group and user-specific risk and health communication”. The criticism is also capable of gaining a majority in political circles, as a ZDF talk with Markus Lanz just showed.

But communication is also an issue for Wieler: the doctor, that’s the way it is with the SZ read, was in the past partly astonished by the reports in the media. However, he understands the regular appearances in the federal press conference “as his duty as a scientific official”, the newspaper learned from the environment of the RKI boss.

An anonymous source from politics in turn substantiated criticism of Wieler – and other scientists. “They just don’t get that science doesn’t happen in their bubble anymore, but has practical implications for people’s lives,” it said. Changes must be agreed with the ministry, even if a step is scientifically justified. Apparently there are fundamental problems of understanding in all directions.

RKI boss Lothar Wieler: Bayern FDP boss Hagen has already called for the replacement

In fact, there have recently been open calls for Wieler to be replaced – also from the ranks of the traffic light parties. “It is an affront for an authority to simply decide something like this without the minister,” said Bavaria’s FDP leader Martin Hagen at the end of January with a view to the decision on the recovered status. Hagen, who had also negotiated the coalition agreement, added in an interview with the image added: If he had held the post of Health Minister, “Wieler would no longer be in office today”.

One thing is clear: the RKI remains an important player in the fight against the pandemic. It was only on Thursday that the authority presented new models of the possible course of the omicron wave – possibly a decisive help in the dispute about the required relaxation. (fn)


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