Lauterbach sees no more scope for relaxation
Following the Bundestag's decision against a Corona vaccination requirement, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) sees no scope for further dismantling containment measures against the pandemic. "What we could do in terms of easing, we have used up," he said Friday in Berlin. There is "no room for maneuver" for further steps, he added.
Moreover, with the current containment measures based on the Infection Protection Act, the country "will certainly not be able to make ends meet in the fall," Lauterbach added. For example, he said, it would "in all likelihood" not be possible without reintroducing a mask requirement in many areas. Therefore, he said, the law would have to be amended once again. If mandatory vaccination had been adopted, "more freedom in the Infection Protection Act" would probably have been possible, Lauterbach said. The vaccination obligation would have been "urgently necessary" in his view.
A bill to make Corona vaccination mandatory for everyone 60 and older failed in the Bundestag on Thursday. "This was a bad week for the protection of the population against Corona infection," Lauterbach commented. The Bundestag decision was "a clear and also bitter defeat for all supporters of mandatory vaccination," including himself.
It is also bad news for healthcare workers who care for Corona patients and for all members of vulnerable groups, Lauterbach said. It is also "sad news" in terms of the serious illnesses and deaths that could have been prevented by mandatory vaccination.
Lauterbach and his Bavarian colleague Klaus Holetschek (CSU) had spoken out after the failure in favor of taking a new approach to a general vaccination obligation. He wanted to continue trying "to achieve compulsory vaccination by the fall to avoid unnecessary victims in the fall," Lauterbach affirmed in the "Bild" newspaper (Friday). "As a doctor and as a politician, I never give up when it comes to other people's lives."
Chancellor Olaf Scholz, on the other hand, sees no basis for a second attempt. The statement of the parliament was very clear, said the SPD politician already on Thursday evening in Berlin. "There is no legislative majority in the Bundestag for mandatory vaccination. That is the reality that we must now take as a starting point for our actions." Lauterbach then told Deutschlandfunk radio that he shares Olaf Scholz's assessment that "the probability that we will still achieve anything via talks is very low."
In his press conference on Friday, Lauterbach reiterated that he would continue to hold talks in the Bundestag on the subject of mandatory vaccination. However, he was "very skeptical" about this. He now wants to "once again approach a creative campaign for vaccination," the federal health minister announced. "If we do it creatively and well," the vaccination rate could still be increased by the fall, he said.
Commenting on the current Corona situation, Lauterbach said new infections are currently down significantly. "We have now entered a relatively stable decline in the number of cases." However, he said, things are not looking so good in terms of severe cases of the disease and deaths.