Health ministers discuss booster incentives

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Wed 15th Dec, 2021

In the Corona crisis, the health ministers of the federal and state governments want to discuss this Tuesday uniform relief for vaccinated who have received a booster dose. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) had announced before the ministerial deliberations a proposal to the effect that boostered persons should be exempt from the envisaged additional test in the case of access rules according to the 2 G plus model.

Sending vaccinated persons with booster vaccinations still to the test is medically not meaningful, said Lauterbach the ARD. In addition, an end to compulsory testing could be an incentive to get booster shots. According to a draft reported by the Reuters news agency, a negative test result would continue to be required of boostered persons in "medical and nursing facilities" to protect particularly vulnerable groups of people.

Ute Teichert, chairwoman of the Federal Association of Public Health Service Doctors (BVÖGD), warned against any relaxation for people who have been boostered. Such a step would be premature, she told the newspapers of the Funke media group. "It would be wiser to wait and see how the pandemic develops in the coming weeks."

In several states, boostered people are already exempt from mandatory testing at 2 G plus - such as in Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, Thuringia, Baden-Württemberg and Saarland. In Baden-Württemberg and Thuringia, for example, this also applies to people whose second vaccination was less than six months ago, and to convalescents whose Covid 19 disease occurred no longer than six months ago.

Initial laboratory tests show that antibodies from vaccinated individuals respond comparatively poorly to the heavily mutated Omicron variant. This deterioration in protection can probably be compensated for, at least in part, by booster vaccination. It increases the antibody level in the blood. However, vaccine breakthroughs due to Omicron have also been documented in people who have already been boosted. Reliable data on the extent to which boostered people infect others when infected with Omicron are not yet available.

According to a report, the German Federal Ministry of Health wants to require inbound travelers from virus-variant areas to take a PCR test after arrival in Germany in addition to a Corona test before departure. "The affected entrants must immediately go into quarantine until the results are available," reads a draft for the federal and state health ministers' conference available to Reuters.

Like the health ministers, a government council of experts will also meet this Tuesday - for the first time. The virtual kick-off meeting is likely to focus initially on a working structure. The goal is for the council to come up with recommendations for policymakers that are as unanimous as possible, said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit. Members of the council are virologists Christian Drosten, Hendrik Streeck and Melanie Brinkmann, RKI President Lothar Wieler, the head of the Standing Commission on Vaccination, Thomas Mertens, physicist Viola Priesemann and intensive care physician Christian Karagiannidis.

Lauterbach said that especially in this difficult phase, the assessment of the expert council plays a very central role. "In order to be able to make political decisions, we will discuss, among other things, how dangerous the new Omicron variant is, how much boosters help and how we break the current wave further," Lauterbach said.

Photo by Parang Mehta


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