Timo Ulrichs in conversation with Dieter Kassel

Vorpommern-Greifswald district: Vaccinations were also carried out here on the beach. Much is being done in Germany to convince hesitant citizens of the pike. (picture alliance / dpa / Stefan Sauer)

Another federal-state cycle will decide what to do next with Corona. The epidemiologist Timo Ulrichs relies above all on vaccination to break the fourth wave. He calls on those who refuse to be vaccinated to understand the consequences of their actions.

It’s still time: Chancellor Angela Merkel and the prime ministers of the Länder meet for a videoconference. Two crises are on the agenda: dealing with the flood disaster and Covid-19. Against the background of an increasing number of infections, the corona level should be determined for the fall.

What to do to break the fourth wave Infection epidemiologist Timo Ulrichs predicts that the number of infections will soon increase much faster than it currently does. His answer: hygiene, respect for the rules of distancing and vaccination to the maximum.

Ulrichs is clearly against compulsory vaccination. Vaccination must remain voluntary: “However, everyone must be clear about the consequences of not being vaccinated. Namely, that one cannot obtain collective immunity as quickly and as well. And above all, that one cannot not protect those who cannot be vaccinated: children and adolescents and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. “

Unequal burden sharing

The scientist criticizes that there has been an “unequal distribution of the burden” throughout the period of the pandemic. In order to protect the elderly, children and young people have had to curtail education and freedom of movement. Now, conversely, adults should all be vaccinated so that children are as safe as possible when they start school, urges Ulrichs.

According to the epidemiologist, the fourth wave will be different from the previous waves. The third has already claimed fewer lives, says Ulrichs: “The vaccination has already had an impact. And it will be even more so now.” Nevertheless, if the wave turns out to be significant, there will again be cases of Covid this time with severe developments – “until death”. However, this can be largely avoided by observing more hygiene and distance and increasing vaccinations.

Technically, that’s not a problem: after months of problems because there weren’t enough vaccines, there are now plenty – as promised by the federal government for the summer. It is now a question of seducing citizens who still hesitate to be vaccinated. “Every vaccination counts!”, Said Minister of Health Jens Spahn. About 45.6 million people nationwide are fully vaccinated, or just under 55% of all residents.

Warning of new mutations

The Bund-Länder-Round will likely decide to let the offer of free rapid tests for everyone expire in the fall – also to encourage more vaccinations. The Federal Ministry of Health has proposed the move for mid-October. Rapid tests should therefore only be free for people who cannot be vaccinated or for whom there is no general recommendation for vaccination, such as pregnant women or those under the age of 18.

Distance rules and mask requirements are likely to remain in Germany: on buses and trains or in shops, for example. However, access to some facilities could be re-regulated: that is, only those who have been vaccinated, cured or who have recently tested negative can enter or participate. This is currently under discussion for clinics and retirement homes, sporting events, indoor events as well as hotels and restaurants.

Ulrichs also draws attention to the international situation and warns against the delta variant and other mutations. In southern Africa or Southeast Asia for example, the virus can currently spread without any obstacle, he says. Rich countries must therefore make vaccines available as quickly as possible – not enough is being done here.

(ahe / with dpa material)