June 16, 2021

Annoyed virologist at Maybrit Illner: “These discussions don’t get us any further”

Updated June 11, 2021, 10:56 a.m.

Maybrit Illner goes with her guests on troubleshooting in the past: What went wrong in Germany in the corona pandemic? Looking ahead is neglected.

A criticism

of Fabian Busch

Maybrit Illner travels back to the beginning of this year with her guests on Thursday evening. A dispute between two camps of experts dominated the public debate. The “hawks” saw the tough lockdown as the only effective remedy against the corona virus. Above all, the “pigeons” wanted to protect risk groups and allow the majority of the population to relax by means of rapid tests.

In the past few weeks, this dispute has receded into the background. Illner, however, wants to search for errors in her broadcast and brings the two camps into position again: SPD health pope Karl Lauterbach is running for the falcons, the Hamburg virologist Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit for the pigeons.

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These are the guests at “Maybrit Illner”

Karl Lauterbach: If there had been more rapid tests earlier, fewer people would have died, admits the SPD health expert. The bottom line, however, is that the federal government did a lot of things right during the pandemic – including with the lockdowns: “On the whole, we had no alternative to this overall strategy.”

Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit: According to the virologist at the Bernhard Nocht Institute at the University of Hamburg, the seasons have a major influence on the pandemic: “This is a warning signal that we have to think about autumn.” For him, this means above all that the state must collect more data.

Helge Braun: The Chancellery Minister (CDU) is annoyed that the performance of the state and the health system in the pandemic is being neglected: Germany has ramped up mask production very quickly. In addition, the first vaccine was developed here. “Germany always plays an enormous role. And not just for us, but beyond our own country.”

Birgit Puhl: The Hamburg general practitioner says there is currently no trace of normality. She and her colleagues have their hands full with the vaccination and are asked questions that they cannot answer. For example, how the digitization of vaccination records should work. “If anyone here knows how to do it, please let me know,” said Puhl.

Robin Alexander: In the beginning, the “sealing” was right, believes the deputy editor-in-chief of “Welt”. But little happened after that. “Our state was very good at admonishing people to stay at home and very good at promising them money. But other things that the state had to do did not work so well.”

This is the speech duel of the evening

Messrs Lauterbach and Schmidt-Chanasit know what is required of them: They fight their expert battles, but always remain polite. So it is right at the beginning when the question of whether parents should have their children vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Virologist Schmidt-Chanasit says he is “completely” behind the decision of the Standing Vaccination Commission, which initially only recommended vaccination for children with previous illnesses: “You have to be very, very careful with this decision – especially when it comes to possible long-term damage.”

Lauterbach sees it a little differently. The epidemiologist would like a vaccination campaign for children and adolescents as well. In his opinion, long-term damage after a vaccination is rather unlikely. In addition, one percent of infected children in the UK would also be hospitalized. “The children also benefit from the vaccination,” said Lauterbach.

That is the moment of the evening

Politicians must always expect that they will be held up against statements from the past that no longer fit the present. Maybrit Illner also gave the virologist Schmidt-Chanasit this unpleasant experience. A quote from a program last summer is played when the expert said: “I think there simply cannot be a second lockdown. In any situation.”

As is well known, things turned out differently – and Schmidt-Chanasit has to be asked whether it would have been better not to say this sentence. That was a certain situation at the time, he defends himself. But he does not want to move completely from his position: “I am still convinced that you can leave a lot open with test and hygiene concepts.”

Schmidt-Chanasit is visibly annoyed by this confrontation with the statements from the past. “I don’t think these discussions will get us any further.” In addition, all scientists – whether falcons or pigeons – always had the same goal: to reduce the number of infections. They only argued about the way to get there.

That’s the result

“Don’t look back in anger”, Oasis have already sung: Don’t look back in anger. Maybrit Illner has planned exactly that for this show. It is also very easy to talk about what went wrong in Germany: the rapid tests came too late, the vaccines anyway – and the bureaucracy prevented pragmatic solutions.

But the question is: what is the use of talking so much about the past? Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit is absolutely right when he says: “I think we should look ahead.” Except for a quick round of questions at the end (what needs to be better in the next pandemic?), The look ahead is neglected.

One would have liked to know how the federal government intends to use this summer better than the previous one to prepare the country for a possible flare-up of the pandemic in autumn. It is well known that one learns from mistakes. What exactly we have learned, however, remains somewhat unclear.

Also read: All current information about the corona pandemic in our live blog

The Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) assumes that a number of people have not built up effective corona immune protection despite being fully vaccinated. Three groups of people in particular could be affected.