Eighteen months have passed since Germany’s first reported case of Covid-19 in Starnberg, Bavaria on January 27 2020. There have since been countless cases and deaths, multiple waves and lockdowns, and now various variants as well as a vaccine made in Germany, as shown by Deutsche Welle’s chronological summary of Germany’s coronavirus history.
The country is currently trying to roll back restrictions again, despite the steady increase of the incidence rate due to the spread of the delta variant. However, there has been significant progress with the vaccine roll out. As of 16 July, 60% of the population are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 46% have had their first dose. This is getting closer to the 85% figure that the RKI believes is required for herd immunity.
Politicians and health experts strongly believe that vaccination is the way out of the pandemic. In a press conference on Tuesday 13 July, Health Minister Jens Spahn said that the country is urging people to get vaccinated.
In a bid to do so, there has been talk about charging those who are unvaccinated for COVID-19 tests in the future. The President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Lothar Wieler, refused to rule out “the possibility of that situation happening one day”. Markus Söder, the state premier of Bavaria, is also open to adding a cost to testing after everyone has been offered the vaccination.
There have also been calls for an improvement to the government’s current approach to promote vaccinations. Their campaign has been “hardly visible”, SPD politician Bärbel Bas claimed. Dietmar Barsch, the Bundestag Head of Die Linke (The Left), also believes “the vaccination campaign should be advertised with TV spots, among other things”. Such methods would “approach the people” and therefore encourage vaccinations, according to Klaus Reinhardt, President of the German Medical Association.
Despite the recent push to get vaccinated, Chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled out imposing mandatory vaccination, instead saying education is the key to raising vaccination rates. The question arose after European nations France, Greece, Italy and Belgium all introduced vaccination mandates for certain groups of people.
Whilst Germany’s vaccine roll out may have initially been slow, the government hopes that with their recent promotion of the vaccine, the country is well on the way to further easing its COVID-19 measures.