"Flattening the curve" - that was the central demand from science and politics at the beginning of the Corona pandemic. The message was that to prevent the health system from being overburdened, the number of new infections per day had to be kept as low as possible.In the meantime, the slogan has almost been forgotten, but now the Federal Ministry of Health is bringing it up again. "Flatten the curve 2.0 - that's the task for fall and winter," reads a recent report on the ministry's Corona strategy for the coming months, obtained by the Daily Mirror.
Vaccination plays a central role in this. The federal government's goal is a vaccination rate of 90 percent among those over 60 and at least 75 percent among those aged 12 to 59. So far, only almost half of those aged twelve to 59 have been fully vaccinated. Among those over 60, 80 percent have received their second vaccination. "This demonstrates the importance of continued efforts to increase vaccination rates," the paper says. But how can vaccination readiness be increased?
One idea the ministry has is to put pressure on the unvaccinated by denying them access to restaurants or the theater. "In general, vaccinated and recovered individuals can and should no longer be subject to the same restrictions as non-vaccinated individuals because of the significantly reduced risk to themselves and others," the paper says.
Heike Klüver, a professor of political behavior at Berlin's Humboldt University, believes this is a promising strategy. In a representative survey of 20,500 people, she examined how to raise vaccination rates. "If there are freedoms only for those who are vaccinated, that can significantly increase the willingness to vaccinate, by six percentage points in the undecided group," she says.
Financial offers could also help - as long as they're high enough. "An incentive of 25 euros is too low. At 50 euros, undecided people can be persuaded to vaccinate," she says. At 50 euros, the will to vaccinate among the undecided increases by five percentage points. Free donuts, as in the USA, or a free sausage, as recently offered at a Thuringian vaccination center, are probably not enough.
It is important to make vaccination as easy as possible and to reduce long journeys and waiting times. Mobile vaccination teams at busy locations such as train stations or shopping centers could help here, says Klüver.In addition to vaccination, the Federal Ministry of Health continues to insist on mandatory masks and distance rules in public transport and retail - these are to apply until spring 2022. The ministry also stresses the importance of domestic "quarantine of close contacts and people entering the country from certain risk areas". However, vaccinated and convalescents are to be exempt from the quarantine requirement.
The states are being urged by the Ministry of Health to continue to ensure regular testing in daycare centers and schools. "Outbreaks in schools and daycare centers are expected to increase again with rising incidence in the general population." The states are therefore urged to implement "testing, ventilation and hygiene concepts" in daycare centers and schools. The same applies to retirement and nursing homes. For their residents, the federal and state governments are "already planning timely booster vaccinations."
The Ministry of Health does not rule out the possibility that movement will have to be restricted again in the fall and winter. However, in view of the advanced vaccination campaign, it also says: "In all likelihood, such a drastic lockdown as in the second and third waves will no longer be necessary."
Image by Michael Kretzschmar