The Minister of Health spoke of a possible “killer variant” and was widely criticized: But he had to speak “uncomfortable truths”, says Lauterbach now. New waves are expected in autumn.
Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach expects the corona situation to ease in the summer, but sees no reason to give the all-clear. “The pandemic will decrease seasonally,” said the SPD politician as a speaker on Thursday at a conference in Gmund. There will be a low number of cases, but not a situation like last year that the summer was “almost corona-free”. The current omicron virus variant is too contagious for this, even in good weather.
Lauterbach also justified his recent warning of possible more dangerous variants in the fall, which met with widespread criticism. “I get paid for that.”
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the seven-day incidence rose again slightly to 720.6 – after 688.3 reported new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days the day before and 1,015.7 a week ago. However, a comparison of daily values is becoming increasingly difficult – individual countries do not report on every day of the week, which leads to late reports.
In addition, experts have been assuming that many unrecorded cases have been going on for some time – due to overworked health authorities and because not all infected people do PCR tests, which only count in the statistics. Lauterbach confirmed that there are currently about twice as many cases as are officially reported.
The minister again expressed the expectation that new waves of infection could be expected in the autumn. New virus variants are also coming at ever shorter intervals. You also have to reckon with variants that are as resistant to vaccination as Omicron, but go as deep into the lung tissue as the Delta variant.
“I hope that doesn’t happen,” said Lauterbach in his speech to the participants of the “Ludwig-Erhard Summit” at Tegernsee. He defended speaking such “inconvenient truths,” even if it met with criticism. “I’m paid to present the truth in a way that is neither exaggerated nor unrealistically optimistic.”
If he describes something like this, he does so “so that we can prepare well”. Lauterbach was met with criticism from politicians and some researchers with statements, whereby he had also used the formulation of a possible “killer variant”.
Lauterbach explained that new studies indicate an underestimation of the reported number of deaths in the industrialized countries. Accordingly, they could be higher by a factor of 1.8 or 1.9. If this were really in this dimension, one would have to assume that well over 200,000 people could have died of Covid-19 in Germany in the past two years.
According to the official RKI data, the number of people who died from or with the involvement of a corona infection rose to 133,632. Lauterbach said that hospital patients with other diseases such as a heart attack would usually not have died without a corona infection.