While virologist Christian Drosten expects a strong corona wave before December, his colleague Hendrik Streeck is quite optimistic in an interview with FOCUS online. He is also against “measures out of pure concern”.

How will the Corona autumn be? Will new variants be dangerous for us? A new rule catalog should go through the Federal Council on Friday. The virologist Christian Drosten expects a “strong wave of incidence” of corona infections “before December”. That said the expert of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”.

FOCUS online has previously spoken to virologist Hendrik Streeck about his autumn forecast, which is far more positive.

FOCUS online: The Infection Protection Act has passed the Bundestag, now the Bundesrat is still missing. In a nutshell: How do you rate the catalog of measures?

Hendrik Streeck: It is clear that it is a compromise between different views on how to deal with the pandemic. There is therefore a partial lack of coherence. This is shown, for example, by the fact that a distinction is made between trains and planes. That does not make sense. It’s also not good to argue about different filters. ICEs are equipped with different filters than regional trains.

The positive thing about the regulations is that we have an infection protection law that gives the federal states a lot of leeway in making decisions. Because we can expect that the infection process will vary from region to region. What I’m missing is how to define certain crises.

Yes, that’s very vague…

Streek: Exactly. In the evaluation of the Infection Protection Act, we also noted that it should not just be limited to Corona, but that an Infection Protection Act should be drawn up in such a way that it is long-term. That it can also lead through crises of the future.

So don’t we need specific thresholds or the hospital traffic light to decide when the first and second stages apply?

Streeck: In fact, something like that is missing. But we also have very different situations in the federal states in terms of available beds and staff. It is therefore difficult to define a universal key. Furthermore, and I want to make this very clear, we should not adopt measures that are based purely on prudence. Because deciding or banning something just out of concern will not help us. Pragmatism is required here.

Other experts like Mr. Stöhr go even further and say that we actually no longer need the entire catalog of measures.

Streeck: This is about tradability and not about having already decided on measures. The countries should be given the opportunity to react at short notice. I don’t see why you should reject good preparation across the board.

Does that mean that, in your opinion, we are well prepared for the autumn with the planned regulations?

Streeck: Yes and no. I have already noted the inconsistency of the law and the need to avoid adopting measures out of sheer concern when there is no reason to do so so far. After two and a half years of the pandemic, the citizens know only too well how to deal with Corona. This can also be positively emphasized. In my view, it would be legitimate here to allow personal responsibility.

How do you look towards autumn? How do you assess the risk situation?

Streeck: You don’t like to read it, but you have to assume that even an assessment is vague. But it may well be that the feared massive wave will not materialize.


Streeck: Or that this wave, maybe this year, will be a return of influenza. So I think it’s right on the one hand to prepare. On the other hand, we have a whole range of other crises, so we shouldn’t let that guide us too much.

What do you think speaks for the fact that the wave is not that heavy?

Streeck: We have very good immunity in the population. In the summer months alone, an estimated 30 percent of people in Germany had contact with the corona virus, so it is quite possible that there will be no strong autumn wave.

Despite everything, it is good to make preparations. However, measures should only be used in the event of a concrete risk situation. I don’t see that coming at the moment.

The danger could be a new variant that some are already warning about. Of course, it is difficult to predict how Sars-CoV-2 will develop. But what do you think we can expect?

Streeck: It is foreseeable that the virus will continue to develop. Such a virus is subject to selection pressure, so that further immune escape variants will emerge in the foreseeable future. The question is always how relevant that is. In the German population we now probably have an immunity of more than 95 percent. And that immunity isn’t just against areas that mutate, but other sections of the coronavirus as well. That’s why we never have a complete loss of immune protection. So we have to monitor the mutations virologically and epidemiologically. But there is no reason to fear that every new variant will require tougher measures or that it would be dangerous for all of us. Because it won’t be a completely new virus.

How do you rate BA 2.75?

Streeck: Whether this variant or others will prevail here is a matter of speculation. But all these mutations that are happening at the moment do not mean that we are starting from scratch or that the vaccinations are no longer effective. With an assumed immunity in the population of 95 percent, I think we would be out of the woods.

So the prospects for autumn and winter are not so bleak.

Streeck: Even if we go into this fall and winter with a lot of imponderables – after two and a half years we know how to deal with Corona, so with all the other crises this should no longer be our main concern. People look forward to the Oktoberfest and other festivals again, which I think is good. With a certain amount of mindfulness – especially if you belong to a risk group – we can let that happen again.