The measures adopted by Germany’s federal government during the coronavirus pandemic were inconsistent and based on haphazard data, and their effect was also questionable, a German special commission report published on Friday concluded.
Half of the members of the 18-member expert committee were nominated by the government and the other half by the Bundestag. According to their evaluation, “alternative approaches have generally been pushed into the background without discussion.”
Their examination may also have personal consequences. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), was responsible for the handling of the pandemic, and many are already demanding the ouster of its leader, Lothar Wieler.
It is “inevitable” that Health Minister Karl Lauterbach will fire the president of RKI, Die Welt quoted Wolfgang Kubicki, vice-president of the liberal FDP.
The report sharply criticized the exclusivity of the approach to the epidemic because, as its authors stated, “successful epidemic management is difficult to imagine without openly addressing differences of opinion.”
According to the German Federal Ministry of Health, the assessment’s conclusion is a “general reckoning with politics and the RKI.” Data provision was insufficient, and political decisions were not transparent. Meanwhile, the expert council found little evidence of the effectiveness of the measures taken during the years of the pandemic.
While opportunities to assess the impact of non-pharmacological measures have been used in other countries, coordinated companion research was largely absent in Germany during the Covid epidemic, the report stated.
There was no defined research concept that decisions should be “made on the basis of analysis based on more accurate data.” Furthermore, there were no jointly coordinated research initiatives. In addition, no one accepted the proposal of the health insurance funds, which would have willingly made their huge databases available to the researchers.
Closing schools may not have been justified
The “exact effectiveness” of school closures in curbing the spread of the coronavirus is “still an open” question, experts concluded.
The 18-member panel also drew attention to the fact that the high infection rate among children and adolescents is misleading, with the document stating that “testing in schools for no reason” indicated an apparently higher incidence of infection. If adults had been tested as often as students, the same frequency of cases would have been reported.
The report also questioned the effectiveness of the restrictions, which initially had a “short-term positive effect,” but in the long term “were less and less accepted by the population and lost their effectiveness.”
The collateral damage was all the more serious, for examples, “an increase in domestic violence against women and children (…) nd an increase in the number of mental illnesses and in existential difficulties.”
Meanwhile, Janosch Damen, health policy spokesman for the German Greens in the Bundestag, warned that the country should quickly reinstate protective measures such as compulsory wearing of masks and a new vaccination campaign in order to avoid a massive lockdown.