As infections skyrocket, German government declares pandemic over
Despite the explosion in the number of cases in Germany and across Europe, the German government is effectively declaring the pandemic over. Earlier this week, Health Minister Jens Spahn (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) reiterated his call for the currently declared “epidemic situation of national significance” to expire on November 25. This would eliminate most of the remaining protective measures.
Since the first wave of the pandemic in March 2020, the Bundestag had regularly prolonged this “epidemic situation”. Under the Infection Protection Act, this forms the legal basis for national regulations such as mask requirements and distance and contact restrictions.
Spahn’s call, which essentially follows the line of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, is supported by all parties in the Bundestag (German parliament). Representatives of the Left Party hailed him just as much as the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens, who currently form the next federal government. A document released Wednesday by the three parties on “the end of the epidemic situation” makes it clear that they plan to relentlessly pursue the policy of “profits before life” when they take office.
“The epidemic situation of national scope… ends at the end of November 24, 2021. It will not be prolonged. Because its preconditions no longer exist, “he said, adding:” The catalog of intervention-intensive measures (…) will no longer be applicable after the end of the epidemic situation on federal territory. We will also remove the possibility, currently still provided for in law … for state parliaments to declare this catalog applicable at the state level in accordance with the epidemic situation in individual states. “
It’s black on white. Although the pandemic is once again rampant, the SPD, FDP and the Greens have agreed in their coalition talks, which are being held in secret, that there will be virtually no action to contain the virus in the future. . In doing so, they are causing a situation like that of last winter, when the healthcare system almost collapsed due to the rapid increase in the number of cases and tens of thousands of people died in terrible conditions. in Germany alone.
Already, the situation is catastrophic. The national seven-day incidence of new COVID-19 infections is skyrocketing every day. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), this figure rose to 139.2 per 100,000 inhabitants on Friday. The day before it was at 130.2, a week ago at 95.1. The death toll is also rising again. In the past four days, 489 people have died. This brought the official death toll from COVID-19 in Germany to 95,606.
Hospitals are on the verge of overloading. “We are in a critical pandemic situation,” the managing director of the German Hospital Association, Gerald Gass, told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. He said the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 infections had risen sharply in a week. “If this trend continues, we will again have 3,000 intensive care patients in just two weeks,” he warned. Currently, more than 1,800 people are in intensive care, and nearly 4,300 COVID-19 patients are in normal care, according to the DIVI intensive care registry.
The official justification given for ending the measures is the vaccination rate. In fact, only about two-thirds of the German population are fully vaccinated. Nearly 30 million people, including all children under the age of 12, are completely defenseless against the virus. Additionally, there is a risk that coronavirus infections will pass through the vaccine. From February to the end of last week, the RKI recorded 117,763 probable vaccine advances. Nevertheless, according to the RKI, only 1.9 million people received a third vaccination booster in Germany.
Despite vaccinations, the situation in Europe is worse than it was last year due to the reckless reopening policy. Last week, 1.4 million cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Europe, 18% more than the previous week. During the same period, 20,503 deaths were recorded, an increase of 17%. This means that nearly 1.3 million people have officially died from COVID-19 in Europe. And, as in the United States and India, the actual death toll is almost certainly much higher.
The situation is currently the most dramatic in Eastern Europe. Russia and Ukraine are setting new records for infections and deaths almost daily. In Russia, 1,163 people died from COVID-19 on Friday and 648 in Ukraine. The three Baltic States are among the countries with the highest incidences in the world. In Latvia the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in one week stood at 934.5 yesterday (Friday), in Estonia at 847.8 and in Lithuania at 747.
The situation is also out of control in Romania and Bulgaria, with incidences of around 500. In Romania, which has a population of around 19 million, more than 15,000 new infections were recorded on Saturday. About 30 patients had to be transferred to neighboring Hungary due to the overload of the health system. The situation is so dire that the government in Bucharest has had to take limited action. From Monday, masks will be mandatory throughout Romania and larger events such as weddings and conferences will be banned in November.
The fact that the SPD-FDP-Greens coalition is preparing to end all COVID-19 protections in such a situation exposes the class character of the new federal government. He is preparing to implement the “benefits before life” policy even more aggressively than the grand coalition SPD-CDU which he replaces. Already, in their exploratory document, the SPD, the FDP and the Greens pledged to respect the constitutional amendment on the budgetary balance and to increase the “competitiveness of Germany as an economic place”.
The message is clear: The new government sees its job as extracting from the working class the gigantic sums that poured into big banks and corporations in the COVID-19 emergency bailouts last spring. The scientifically necessary measures to contain the pandemic – in the first place, the closure of schools and non-essential businesses – are incompatible with this agenda.
Behind this ruthless policy of massive infection lie the geostrategic and economic interests of German imperialism, which positions itself against its international rivals and is rearming itself massively. The scoping document states that the aim is to “ensure that Europe emerges economically strong from the pandemic on the basis of sound and sustainable public finances”. To this end, “increased cooperation between the national European armies” is declared essential, as is the improvement of the equipment of the German army.
The World Socialist Website and the International Committee of the Fourth International (IFCI) stressed from the outset that the fight against the pandemic is not just a medical issue. Like the fight against social inequalities, war and dictatorship, it requires the independent political intervention of the working class on the basis of a socialist program.
In his election call for the federal elections, the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei ( Socialist Equality Party of Germany) declared: “The struggle to contain the pandemic is turning into a class struggle, which shows more and more clearly that the two main classes of society, the capitalist class and the workers, have irreconcilable interests. Official pandemic policy puts profits before human lives. We request:
“The immediate shutdown of all non-essential businesses until the pandemic is under control!” Full payment of wages for all workers concerned, as well as real help for the self-employed and overall support for poor households! A globally coordinated vaccination campaign instead of nationalism and vaccine profits! “
The murderous policies of the ruling class in Germany and around the world, which threaten tens of millions of additional lives, underscore the urgency of a struggle based on this agenda.