Exclusive virologist Stöhr: Corona numbers are exploding

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From: Catherine Brumbauer

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The corona numbers are going up. Virologist Klaus Stöhr doesn’t want to make “too big a connection” with the Oktoberfest. The expert now gives a clear winter forecast.

Munich – It’s sniffing and coughing in the subways and in the shops. Munich is experiencing another wave of illness this fall. The corona incidence is also making a huge jump. According to the dashboard of the Robert Koch Institute, it was on October 11, 1497. For Germany, the RKI reported more than 136,000 new corona cases on Wednesday. The virologist Klaus Stöhr does not want to make “too big a connection” with the Oktoberfest. “I would be careful with terms like the Wiesn effect,” he emphasized in an interview with the Munich Merkur by IPPEN.MEDIA. “Until last weekend we had a similar event in Stuttgart.” A big folk festival, the Cannstatter Wasen, also took place in the state capital of Baden-Württemberg until Sunday. “And in Stuttgart we have one of the lowest incidents in all of Germany.”

On the contrary, there is an increase in respiratory diseases that is normal for fall and winter. “As usual, the increase in the federal states is different.” Also this winter there will be serious corona cases that need to be treated in hospital. According to Stöhr, people with weakened immune systems and the elderly are particularly susceptible, as with the flu. Especially the over 60s who have not yet received a vaccination.

Virologist Klaus Stöhr questions the ‘Wiesn effect’ of the corona figures and gives a preview of winter. © Sven Hoppe/dpa (editing)

Virologist Stöhr gives corona prognosis: ‘Situation not comparable to the past two winters’

A large part of the population has gained immunity through vaccination or infection with Covid-19. “Tough courses will continue to take place because many people have not yet developed natural immunity.” According to Stöhr, hospitals will be taxed more heavily than in the years before the pandemic. “The situation will be tense, but despite much less measures it will not be comparable to the last two winters.”

Corona predictions for winter: other experts disagree with Stöhr

Stöhr, who is a member of the Advisory Council for the Evaluation of Corona Measures, contradicts Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. The SPD politician had expressed concern about the corona situation in Munich and spoke of a possible return to the mask duty indoors. More reticent than Stöhr recently expressed himself in a conversation with the Munich Mercury also Clemens Wendtner, chief infectious disease physician at the Munich clinic. There are not only serious corona cases. “The risk of post-Covid should also not be downplayed,” Wendtner warned.

And Isabella Eckerle, head of the infectious diseases department in the medical discipline of the university clinics in Geneva, was surprised on Twitter by Stöhr’s current assessment of the corona situation.

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According to the virologist, measures for the coming winter are only necessary if the general well-being is endangered and the hospitals are reaching their limits. “Only then should the state react and measures will make sense.” In the past, lockdowns, facility closures and preventive measures would no doubt have helped prevent a large number of corona deaths and gain time until vaccines were available to everyone. “Now the situation has changed,” says Stöhr. “Politicians must quickly set the thresholds for disease and death above which normality must return.”

Such statements, Eckerle emphasizes, are contrary to the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO). And the virologist raises the question why Stöhr, who worked for the WHO for years on developing vaccines and managed its global flu program, views the corona situation so differently than his former employer.

Virologist Stöhr: measures take “not an epidemiological decision, but a political one”

According to Stöhr, measures only make sense if they have a specific goal. For example, to prevent hospitals from becoming overloaded. However, individual states are currently making decisions “according to taste or their own risk assessment”. Stöhr finds this problematic. “You don’t pick up people with that, explain to someone that they have to wear a mouth cap in Bavaria, but not in Hamburg, for example.” In a comparable corona situation, the same measures should also apply in all federal states. Recourse to preventive measures is ultimately “not an epidemiological decision, but a political one”.

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