Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) considers the Corona pandemic in Germany to be over. Looking at the status, for example, of virus variants, vaccinations and hospital cases still occurring, one can say that the pandemic in Germany has come to an end, Lauterbach said. "We have successfully managed the pandemic in Germany - and also with a good balance."
He said he could understand that there was an interest in asking what all had gone wrong. But the coping strategy as a whole worked, Lauterbach said. "And it only worked out because, after all, the sensible ones and those who have been helpful in Germany have mastered the challenges." However, he said, there are some things that, in hindsight, would be done differently. "I don't think the long school lockdowns were necessary in the way they were." Lockdown steps to prevent the spread of the virus included area-wide closures of schools and daycare centers.
On Tuesday, the German government's Corona Expert Council met for the last time in the Chancellor's Office. At Easter, government protection requirements in the fight against the pandemic will now end. On this Friday (April 7), after several relaxation steps, the last nationwide masking obligations in the health care system will also expire.
It is still open how the financing of vaccinations will continue after the simultaneous expiration of the previous Corona vaccination regulation. The background to this is that the Corona vaccinations are to be transferred to regular care. Lauterbach expressed disappointment that the self-government of health insurers and physicians had not initially agreed on the future price for reimbursement. For this reason, he said, he had invited the parties involved to a discussion with him. He wants to prevent a vaccination gap.
Lauterbach also presented the German government's plans for care reform - with higher contributions for employees and more money for those in need of care. The Cabinet got the reform off the ground on Wednesday. According to the plan, the general nursing care contribution is to be raised by 0.35 to 0.6 points on July 1. Currently, the contribution is 3.05 percent (in the future it will be 3.4). People without children currently already pay 3.4 percent; in the future it is to be four percent. There will be relief for families with two or more children. Those in need of care at home and in a home are to receive more care allowance from the beginning of 2024 - five percent more, according to Lauterbach.
Lauterbach said those in need of care deserve full solidarity. "Since the cost of good care is constantly rising, the solidarity community must not look the other way and leave these higher costs to those needing care and their relatives." At the same time, he said, it is important to stabilize the financing of the insurance system. According to a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court, in the future there should also be a greater differentiation in contributions depending on whether or not one has children. Larger families with two or more children should benefit from this.
The Cabinet also approved a bill for stronger coverage of drug supplies. In order to avoid bottlenecks for important preparations, Lauterbach plans new price rules that should make deliveries to Germany more attractive for manufacturers. In addition, European producers are generally to be given greater access and stockpiling is to be regulated as a safety buffer.
Recently, there have been supply bottlenecks for off-patent medicines such as antipyretics for children, as well as for antibiotics and cancer drugs.
Image by Alexandra Koch