Retrospect on Germany: Monday, 04 May 2020

by Thorsten Koch

Roche delivers large numbers of antibody tests

Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical company, will deliver their new coronavirus antibody test to Germany, beginning this month. The German Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn (CDU), has reached an agreement with Roche. According to this, three million Corona antibody tests should initially go to facilities nationwide, in the coming months, then 5 million tests each forthcoming month. Those who have survived an infection and have antibodies against the Coronavirus, i.e. immunity, may not cause any contagious effect. State restrictions could be relaxed, or not tightened again, if the number of persons with immunity is formally known.

Border controls extended

The German Federal Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer (CSU), has extended the existing border controls, which are intended to contain the spread of infections caused by the Coronavirus, until May 15. Due to the Corona pandemic, controls have been in effect from Germany towards Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark since mid-March. The controls also apply to flights from the holiday destinations Spain and Italy. Anyone who is not a German citizen and is not permanently resident in Germany will be rejected at the border if they do not present a “valid reason to travel”, for example, EU citizens or truck drivers passing through. The Bundestag’s scientific service has raised “concerns” as EU citizens enjoy the right to free movement.

Results of the Heinsberg Study are doubtful

There was a hotspot of the Coronavirus in the district of Heinsberg. On the basis of the figures from a study regarding a locality in Heinsberg, the number of unreported cases for all of Germany was estimated to be ten times the number of official cases. This is highly controversial, and, one might add, doubtful. On the one hand, the University of Bonn pointed out that 1.8 million people in Germany were infected with Covid-19. This resulted from the model calculation of the scientists. In Gangelt, the locality alluded to before, 0.37 percent of those infected may possibly have died. But this number came out of only seven deaths. Other researchers are therefore cautious about the fundamental data. The epidemiologist Gérard Krause, in Braunschweig, said that the interim result of the Heinsberg Study could not simply be transferred to the whole of Germany on the basis that the mortality rate in the small town, relatively speaking, was as high as in Germany as a whole. The assessment base, in fact, is too small.

The Ethics Council should comment on the plan of an immunity card

Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) has asked the German Ethics Council to comment on the plan for a Corona immunity card. The aim is to determine the context in which proof of immunity to the coronavirus can be used. Those who are immune could be exempted from contact bans in the future. In this context, however, what some warned of as a two-class society might arise – with excessive liberties of those recovered. The project will be debated by the Bundestag in the week beginning on May 11th. Spahn planned to introduce an immunity card. But other politicians expressed skepticism, such as SPD leader Saskia Esken. Green Party spokeswoman Annalena Baerbock emphasized that the aim was to reduce physical contacts between people: “It is more than counterproductive to introduce such an ID now.” Data protection experts also criticized the fact that the immunity certificate could be the start of logging and storing more personal data. Finally, the Left Party and the right-leaning AfD also expressed skepticism.

Tübingen Mayor Palmer subject of criticism (updated)

In Baden-Württemberg, the Greens have asked a well-known party member, the Mayor of Tübingen Boris Palmer, to leave the party. A “party order procedure” has been suggested. The state board decided unanimously upon Palmer, who had made controversial statements about dealing with older corona patients. This caused outrage across Germany.
The Green party’s executive said Palmer systematically acted against his own party, and that he was publicly opposed to political values ​​and principles. The executive said it expected Boris Palmer to leave the party. The decision was taken unanimously. The federal Green party leader, Annalena Baerbock, said Palmer would not receive any logistical or financial aid in 2022, should he stand for re-election.
Palmer had said that people might be saved in Germany “who would be dead in six months anyway”. In an open letter, around 100 Greens members then asked to exclude Palmer. The Tübingen OB apologized for his comments, but also emphasized that he felt misunderstood. He tried to smooth the waves and further emphasized that his “basic ecological compass” only fits the Greens.

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