Mr. Streeck, the federal and state governments have decided that the lockdown will be extended to February 14th. Do you think that’s right?
Editor in politics for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung
Every measure to break chains of infection makes sense. What is missing here, however, is a meaningful target. To what value should the infections be reduced, how many new infections mean an overload of the health system? The previous goal of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants was decided so that the health authorities can understand contact chains. It is based on what the health authorities can do on average, not on a scientifically based knowledge.
Even when it was set, this number was rather symbolic, as contact tracking failed in some places and offices in other places were able to cope with significantly more infections. In addition, I can only give an urgent warning against making political decisions of such magnitude based on a value that cannot be reliably determined beyond the facts described. The number of new infections depends on the test behavior, holidays and the like, and therefore fluctuates enormously.
What do you think politics should be based on?
Politics and society should negotiate that together. In the summer I pointed out that the inpatient and intensive care occupancy in connection with the reported infection figures gives a better value. But here, too, it would have to be specified more precisely when it becomes tight in intensive care units in Germany. Is that the case with over 5000 occupied beds, like at Christmas, with 10,000 or even 20,000? At the beginning of the pandemic it was said that we have around 30,000 beds, perhaps a little less due to a lack of staff. At the moment, it is not a clearly defined value that determines the discussion in this matter, but rather public warnings from individual intensive care physicians.