Before the first Corona autumn without state protection rules, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach called for recommended booster vaccinations and mutual consideration. “The Covid infection is not a cold, it is no small matter,” said the SPD politician.
People over 60 and with previous illnesses should reduce their health risk and have their vaccination protection refreshed. A vaccine from Biontech that is adapted to current virus variants is available in practices. Lauterbach and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) also recommended voluntary mask wearing in certain situations.
Lauterbach said that a large number of cases of infection can be expected again in the fall. But there is broad immunity in the population. “Based on what we currently know, we don’t need any measures in the sense of contact restrictions.” When more things happen indoors instead of outdoors, the season of respiratory infections begins - in addition to Corona, the flu also plays a major role.
The vaccination season is starting. A further developed preparation from Biontech can also be used in practices for this purpose. It is a vaccine adapted to the Omicron subline XBB.1.5, which is intended to provide better protection against circulating variants. A total of 14 million doses are expected this fall and winter.
People aged 60 and over and at risk groups should get vaccinated, ideally against the flu - because they are also at greatest risk, said Lauterbach (60), who had himself injected with a corona booster. It remains to be seen whether the recent slow pace of vaccinations will now pick up.
Acting RKI President Lars Schaade said that an increase in respiratory infections, including Covid-19, has been observed for several weeks. That's not unusual either. However, indicators such as dynamics, disease severity and strain on the health system are at a low level. Currently, almost only viruses from the XBB sublineages are circulating in this country. And there is so far no evidence that they are linked to more severe disease patterns.
The incidence is no longer as important as an indicator as it once was, when measures were still derived from it. Testing is now carried out primarily when the medical question arises as to whether it is a Covid infection or not, in order to derive the correct treatment.
There are no requirements for masks, tests and quarantine like in autumn 2022 - but there are recommendations. “If you have symptoms of an acute respiratory infection, you should generally stay at home for three to five days,” explained Schaade. A mask then helps to protect others, which is particularly important if you cannot completely avoid contact with people at risk.
Lauterbach also advised people to protect themselves if they have risk factors for severe corona courses. “This can also include the use of masks in rooms with many people.” It could make sense, for example, if you go to nursing homes. And vaccination is “really the be-all and end-all for good protection.”
The autumn prospects
“The pandemic is over, the virus remains,” said Lauterbach. It is impossible to predict the course of future corona waves. At the moment it is not possible to really estimate how many workers could be lost. It is now the first autumn without protective measures. It cannot therefore be ruled out that other infectious diseases that have recently been “protected” by masks, for example, will also spread more widely. At the same time, everyone has learned to be considerate of one another during the pandemic. He therefore assumes “that together we will manage to protect each other voluntarily.”