Merkel’s aide warns of growing Covid infections and possible delays in vaccines

Updates in Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that coronavirus infections could spiral into the country next month and could trigger renewed restrictions on daily life for vaccines.

On Sunday Helge Braun told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that homes could reach up to 100,000 a day by the end of September if they continued to grow at the current rate.

Germany has finally been able to lift restrictions in May since infections have dropped, and the seven-day incidence rate remains low, at 13.8 per 100,000 on Sunday, according to the Robert Koch Institute. Yet homes were picked up so early last week that officials began raising alarm bells.

“We currently have a 60 percent increase in numbers per week. If the Delta variant were to continue to spread at this rate, and we didn’t counteract it with a very high vaccination rate or behavior change, we would have an incidence of 850. [per 100,000 people] in just nine weeks, ”Braun said.

This will mean a strong growth of cases just before the pivotal elections of the September Bundestag, which will determine Merkel’s successor after 16 years in office.

High infection rates and months of restrictions, along with alleged corruption scandals, sparked a sharp drop in popularity for Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats this spring. The CDU reported recently but took a slight 2 per cent hit in the polls, up to 28 per cent, after last month’s catastrophic floods.

Braun said he did not believe a complete and tight lock would be needed again in Germany. But he warned that if there was a fourth wave, vaccinated people could enjoy less freedom than those who are completely vaccinated.

“This could mean some things like restaurants, cinemas and stadium visits will not be possible to test.” [but] people are not vaccinated because the residual risk is too high, ”he said.

It remains to be seen how such a hierarchy of restrictions would influence public mood.

After Germany’s once slow vaccination campaign started in the last two months, the country has achieved a 60 percent vaccination rate for the first jab, and 48 percent for the full dose. But in recent weeks, vaccination rates have stagnated and many residents have not shown up for their second shot.

Cases of infections are particularly increased among younger populations. Across the state of Lower Saxony, which has relaxed restrictions on indoor meetings, the Tagesspiegel newspaper said hundreds of people who visited the clubs had been quarantined due to infections.

In south-western Baden-Württemberg, Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann, who had long raised concerns about the likelihood of a fourth wave in Germany coming in the autumn, said he would no longer rule it out. the possibility of compulsory vaccinations.

“It is possible that there will be variants that make this necessary,” he told the German news agency DPA, similar to the way measles is mandatory in day care centers because of how infectious it is.

“If there are variants against which the vaccine is no longer so effective, we are immediately in a different situation.”

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