Federal government stands behind RKI President

SThe Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has probably never been as important as it was during this corona pandemic. Its President Lothar Wieler has been one of the faces of the pandemic since the beginning: admonishing, warning and always serious and sober assessing. In recent weeks, however, Wieler has been more controversial than ever. At the latest with the sudden reduction of the convalescent status from six to three months, the tolerance of the liberals in the traffic light coalition was over. Meanwhile, the Greens and SPD supported Wieler. On Monday, deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann once again expressed her confidence in him.

Heike Schmoll

Political correspondent in Berlin, responsible for “Bildungswelten”.

The designated FDP General Secretary Bijan Dijr-Sarai had previously said that Wieler could no longer be sure of the FDP’s trust. The FDP presidium member Michael Theurer said: “With the change in the recovered status almost overnight, RKI boss Wieler has again caused irritation.” The decision on the recovered status must be made by the Bundestag. “It’s about democratic legitimacy and thus also about trust in the liberal constitutional state.”

Theurer thus agreed with the assessment of the scientific service of the Bundestag, which had basically seen in the RKI’s decision on the status of convalescents as a arrogance of the executive over the legislature. The deputy FDP parliamentary group leader Konstantin Kuhle made a similar statement to the “Spiegel”: “The new federal government has decided to make important corona decisions in parliament. This should also apply to the change in the recovered status”. With its solo effort, the RKI “destroyed a lot of trust”.

Lauterbach looked stupid

There was also a crunch in the relationship with Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD), who, by his own admission, knew nothing about the shortening of the convalescent status. The innovation was only found on the RKI website. “I didn’t know that this decision was posted on the RKI’s website and thus automatically became legally valid. That won’t happen again either,” said Lauterbach in the “Bild” talk.

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The minister looked stupid to the prime ministers, having promised them on January 14 that he would inform them in good time about changes in the recovered status. On January 15, he himself was surprised by the updated version. Lauterbach, as Wieler’s supervisor, spoke to him about the chaos and made it clear to him “that that’s not possible”, but also attested that he had done “fantastic work” for two years and therefore continued to enjoy Lauterbach’s trust.


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