Faced with the current outbreak, Germany is considering a vaccination obligation


Since the beginning of November, Germany has recorded around 50,000 new infections per day, a threshold never reached so far by the pandemic. More than 200 deaths per day are now recorded. While the country until then appeared to be globally preserved, this new wave of Covid should make it cross, before the end of the week, the dreaded threshold of 100,000 victims. The intensive care units are overwhelmed. A notorious lack of caregivers is acutely felt there. To the point of making it necessary to triage patients. Many operations on heart ailments or cancers are postponed. The services union VerDI, which has long demanded massive job creation and wage increases, is stepping up its warning strikes (read our November 18 edition) on the eve of important meetings in the negotiations branch of the entire health sector.

A relatively low vaccination rate – a third of the German population is still not fully vaccinated – is one of the main causes of this deadly rebound in the pandemic.

Vaccination skepticism quite widespread in the population by demagogues of the extreme right, but also certain environmentalists, even some personalities on the left, fueled this vaccination delay, quite clear compared to the results obtained in most of the large developed countries.

The controversy swells around the responsibilities of the political world. Angela Merkel’s government, still in charge of current affairs, is accused of having lifted certain restrictions too quickly despite the proven presence of the Delta variant. The potential Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) is on the defensive, accused of never having taken the return of the pandemic really seriously. Within the coalition between SPD, Greens and Liberals (FDP), the debate is intensifying around the vaccination obligation. The question was added, after more than six weeks of negotiations, to other subjects where strong differences remain, such as respect for budgetary orthodoxy or the intensity of investments against global warming.

Lively debate in the future coalition

Karl Lauterbach, the health specialist of the SPD, declares himself in favor of compulsory vaccination. “Without this being able to help us immediately, we must consider it openly,” he said last weekend in front of the cameras of a television channel. There is no question of establishing a regime of this kind, retorted Michael Theurer, vice-president of the FDP, one of the partners of the coalition being formed, which has become peremptory: “We consider it unconstitutional. “The minister-presidents of the Länder who sat in a crisis meeting last week asked the federation to decree a vaccination obligation for hospitals, retirement homes and all professionals” in contact with people at risk . The intensity of the debates on this subject led the president of the Robert-Koch Institute, which establishes daily scientific assessments of the evolution of the pandemic, to take a position. Lothar Wieler believes that it is necessary “to lead as many people as possible to be vaccinated”. So as to be able to activate the obligation “as an ultimate means”.

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