Munich · Munich virologist Oliver Keppler expects an increase in infections in the coming weeks - but still supports the relaxing of pandemic measures in certain situations because of the high vaccination rate in Germany.
The increase in coronavirus infections, which has been only slight so far this fall, is expected to increase significantly over the next few months.
Oliver Keppler, head of virology at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich made the following prediction about Covid-19: "In the fall and winter ahead, we have to assume a significant increase in the incidence of infections. Our lives will be shifting to indoors," the scientist told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
Keppler still believes in the relaxing of Covid rules
The virologist does not advise making Covid restrictions tighter again: "Basically, we have to try relaxing the restrictions in various areas in this phase of the pandemic to see what is justifiable and where one still has to maintain hygiene measures or testing to keep people safe.”
"But we have a good vaccination rate overall - that's the key building block - lots of recovered people, a high-quality testing infrastructure, and yes, also a good understanding of how the virus is transmitted. Situational protective measures, of course, are also part of that." Among the latter, hygiene experts include, for example, not shaking hands.
Large wave of influenza unlikely
Contrary to some fears, Germany is not facing a large wave of flu at the same time, according to the virologist. "I don't expect a severe flu season," Keppler said. "Flu migrates alternately from the southern to the northern hemisphere and back again" - always in the respective winter half-year.
But worldwide, influenza viruses have been way down because of hygiene protocol in place for tackling Covid-19, he said. "In the southern hemisphere, there were hardly any infections two winters in a row. So I think an efficient entry of the virus in our country in the upcoming winter is unlikely," Keppler said. "Covid-19 must remain our primary focus this winter.”
One must still avoid being careless
Nevertheless, Keppler is convinced that the expected easing of the flu situation should not be a reason for people at risk to be careless: "All people who have been recommended to get flu shots by the Standing Commission on Vaccination in previous years should get vaccinated as before." These include people aged 60 and over, pregnant women, those with previous illnesses and medical staff.
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) called on people in Germany to get vaccinated against influenza in particularly large numbers this fall. Because there had been virtually no flu in Germany last year as a result of the partial lockdown, the risk of a flu wave this year was all the higher, he said recently. According to the Robert Koch Institute, our immune system may be less prepared for the coming influenza viruses because of the missed flu wave. (Orig. text: dpa / Translation: ck)