There was a moment when a small jolt went through Polittalk Germany for the first time. “It will be bad,” said the chief virologist of the Charité and NDR podcaster Christian Drosten about Covid-19 in the round at “Maybrit Illner”. And everyone swallowed.
That was six weeks ago.
Now he was sitting there again, topic on day 1 after Merkel’s last warning was in the TV studio: “Will we win the fight against the virus?” And even though word is getting around what this means “It will be bad”: Drosten delivered a dose of optimism. “We have a lead,” he said. “It could be that we are just about to take the curve,” before the death toll in Italy and China, before a curfew. “But we have to do something now.” The window: a week, maybe two.
But please everyone is responsible, “one should not weigh oneself in false security,” said Labor and Social Affairs Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD). The ZDF has already understood: Talk guests now sit nicely at a distance. In addition to Drosten and Heil also Susanne Johna, pandemic officer of the German Medical Association and senior physician in a hospital in Hesse, and Eckhart von Hirschhausen, with whom it is never known that evening whether he is invited as a TV show comedian or a doctor.
And, was there something new?
A lot, actually. Even if you can hardly believe it at all the daily press conferences on the subject, all important questions were asked. Without starting again with the original slime.
Fine, so no more hand washing rules. What about the curfew?
According to Drosten, that could be avoided – if we all remain disciplined. Or will. Being at home. Hubertus Heil also signaled that it would be better to get by without – unfortunately he did not mention domestic violence by name, but said: “You have to think it through to the end”, especially in apartment buildings or wherever families might be close to one another a curfew “have completely different consequences”.
Is this empathy also evident in the culture of debate?
SPD man Heil praised the German welfare state very loudly, but the tenor remained impartial. “This is not the time to look for mistakes,” said von Hirschhausen. “There is no time for ideological discussions,” said Heil. It is almost refreshing how problems have been named and prioritized here in order to postpone some things later (von Hirschhausen’s request for a foster chamber as an interest group; Heil wants to take care of the broken hospitals, “we’ll do that later”).
Suddenly it is possible to recognize systemically relevant professions as such – and that is not the bankers, says Hirschhausen. And to talk about whether profit optimization is the point of the health system. Six months ago, senior physician Johna quoted a study, it was recommended that half of the hospitals be closed. So a little blah blah, instead concrete approaches: what would help. Now.
Johna is in favor of optimally equipping existing hospitals with the rare material, instead of distributing it to newly planned ones like in Berlin. And she wants less paperwork for the doctors so that they have more time to save lives. Heil says: The same applies to the nurses, then to the doctors from next week.
For reasons of capacity, Christian Drosten pleads that priorities be given to who is tested: above all, the elderly who are ill. Suggestion: “If one is positive: why don’t we define the whole family as positive?” Also please: less safety requirements for the vaccine.
That will take until 2021 anyway – but what about, cough, after Easter?
Difficult question, according to Drosten, first: “We have to get below the limit of the health system for the next few months.” Model calculations would predict two years: “But this cannot be maintained.” He hoped that existing drugs, such as an Ebola drug, would prove to be suitable. And if China had a vaccine in its drawer, it would “not be surprised”.
So health first?
And economy second – Minister of Labor Heil repeated this several times. But he also promised: “We have to change something about tenancy law in the short term”, plus unbureaucratic financial aid for everyone with a fear of existence. And because Illner explicitly asked about the solo self-employed: also for them. “If people are worried about their health and their lives, then at least we want to take some other fears away from them.” How well such simple sentences are doing right now.
Sounds unselfish. No pat on the shoulder, nowhere?
Let’s put it this way: The fact that the ARD and ZDF have such good ratings didn’t go down. There was also a plea against the “Echo Chamber of a Whatsapp Group” (Heil) and for “more science journalism” (also Heil). “Just as we don’t want to pass on any germs, we shouldn’t pass on any nonsense,” said von Hirschhausen. Non-knowledge must be addressed – and endured.
Speaking of which: That was the fifth public law round of policing on the topic in a week. What else was there to talk about?
For example, that Germany is now suspending humanitarian refugee admission. And ultimately ultimately international refugee law. Because of Corona. In the beginning of the broadcast, the sentence fell: “Freedom is the greatest corona victim” – unfortunately that’s cynical.