Reopening of German economy causes deadly fourth wave of pandemic

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The daily number of coronavirus infections is increasing rapidly in Germany. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 3,142 new infections in one day on Friday, about 1,500 more than a week earlier. Even over the weekend, when there are usually far fewer reports, there were more than 2,000 new infections every day, about 500 more than the week before, according to the RKI.

The seven-day incidence rate has more than tripled in the past three weeks, from 4.9 on July 6 to 17.5 on August 1. The 7-day average rose from 579 to over 3,000 over the same period.

Central Station in Frankfurt, Germany on Thursday, October 8, 2020 (AP Photo / Michael Probst)

Daily deaths and hospitalizations are also on the rise. The RKI reported 30 deaths on Friday and 21 on Saturday. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day average of deaths was 34 on July 30, after doubling in the previous ten days. The seven-day hospitalization rate, that is to say the number of hospitalizations linked to Covid 19 per 100,000 inhabitants in one week, rose to 0.41, against 0.29 in mid-July.

The rapid development of the pandemic is exacerbated by the spread of the highly contagious delta variant. According to the RKI, he is now responsible for 91% of cases in Germany.

Due to the ruthless policies of the federal and state governments to reopen the economy, it will only be a matter of weeks before daily infection numbers hit new highs. In the UK, Spain and France, tens of thousands of people are already infected with the virus every day. As of Friday, 29,622 new infections were reported in the UK, 24,753 in Spain and 24,309 in France. There was a seven-day incidence rate of 299.9 in the UK, 367.4 in Spain and 217.3 in France.

Earlier this week, Chancellor Helge Braun (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) even warned of 100,000 new daily infections in Germany in September. Incidence rates of over 800 are “unfortunately not unrealistic,” he said Bild am Sonntag. Currently there is “a 60 percent increase in numbers per week.” If the delta variant spreads at this rate and we didn’t counter it with an extremely high vaccination rate or a change in behavior, we would have an incidence rate of 850 in just nine weeks. This would correspond to 100,000 new infections every day!

Such infection rates would mean complete overloading of the healthcare system and a new wave of mass deaths. In a model in early July, the RKI calculated how intensive care use might change in the fall and winter. According to this model, intensive care units are already heavily used, with 6,000 COVID-19 patients at an incidence rate of 400.

Already in previous pandemic waves, the healthcare system was overloaded and tens of thousands of people died from the virus in Germany alone. Speaking to broadcaster ZDF, former chairman of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine (DIVI), Uwe Janssens, warned against a repeat of this scenario. “We saw last year what the consequences are if you wait too long and do nothing. It seems to be repeating itself.

Assessments by serious virologists and the dramatic development of infection rates in Europe and around the world refute the lies of politicians and the media that the danger of the virus has been dismissed.

An internal RKI document leaked to the press last week makes it clear: “The more cases there are, the more cases of severe disease progression (hospitalizations / ICUs) and deaths are recorded – with some delay – the greater the burden on health. system. If the incidence rate is very high, the number of these side effects also increases, as does the number of serious cases requiring treatment in hospital or intensive care.

The newspaper also notes that “more than 40 million people in our population […] currently do NOT have full vaccine protection, “warning that” high vaccination rates alone are not enough to keep the fourth wave flat. “Therefore,” additional basic protective measures are needed “for” lower the fourth wave ”.

Despite warnings from its own biomedical research organization, federal and state governments are sticking to their aggressive reopening policies, ruling out necessary lockdowns.

“As long as our delta variant vaccines are working so well, conventional lockdown is no longer necessary,” Braun said. Previously, the Minister of the Economy Peter Altmeier declared Bild am Sonntag: “We must and we will prevent further containment.”

This is the position of all the capitalist parties which, throughout the pandemic, have placed the profits of big business and the interests of German imperialism above the lives of the people. In essence, they follow the line of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has long called for the lifting of all protective measures against coronaviruses and a return to “normalcy”.

At state level, the Left Party and the Greens are now pushing for the opening of schools. On August 6, Berlin, which is ruled by a coalition of Social Democrats, the Left and the Greens, will become the third federal state, after Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Hamburg, to return to full face-to-face education after the summer holidays. . All the other Länder will then follow in early September, including Thuringia, led by the Left Party, and Baden-Württemberg, ruled by the Greens.

The same plans exist for universities. On Thursday, the Berlin Senate (state executive) announced the resumption of face-to-face teaching in the next winter semester 2021-2022. “In the winter semester, around 200,000 students are expected again at state, denominational and private universities in Berlin,” said a joint statement from the Senate Science and Research Department and the state conference rectors and presidents of the universities of Berlin.

The return to schools and universities, which unions also support, will massively accelerate the spread of the virus throughout the population. The health and lives of some 14 million pupils and students in Germany are also at stake. The vast majority of young people are not protected. Only just under 40 percent of all 18-59 year olds in Germany are fully vaccinated. Among those under 18, the vaccination rate is as low as 1.5 percent.

Current experience leaves no doubt that Covid-19 is a deadly threat to young people as well.

The situation in Indonesia is particularly dire. According to the Indonesian Pediatric Society, there are currently more than 360,000 confirmed cases in children, which corresponds to one in eight infections. In recent weeks, more than 700 children have died from COVID-19, including more than 150 in the week of July 12 alone. What is particularly shocking is that half of them were under the age of five.

In Brazil, COVID-19 is the leading cause of death in children aged 10 to 19. In the first half of 2021 alone, at least 1,581 young people have died from the virus.

And even in developed countries, where the delta variant is spreading rapidly, the number of hospitalizations and deaths among children is increasing. In the UK, more than 40 children are now hospitalized every day with COVID-19. And the number of infected children and adolescents is also increasing in Germany. According to the RKI weekly report, there is currently “an increase in incidence rates, especially in the 10-34 age groups”.

Massive death and suffering, previously only known in wartime, must end. More than 91,600 people have already died from Covid-19 in Germany alone. Across Europe, there have been more than 1.1 million deaths from the coronavirus, and worldwide, more than 4.2 million have officially succumbed to the virus. Recent studies suggest that the actual death toll is much higher.

The World Socialist Website and the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party, SGP) have stressed from the start that the fight against the pandemic is not just a medical issue. This requires the independent mobilization of the working class on the basis of a socialist program. To contain the virus and save lives, workers and young people must create independent grassroots committees for safer workplaces and education. They must take charge of the fight against the virus and organize strikes and demonstrations to apply all the scientifically necessary measures.

In its electoral manifesto, the SGP writes:

The struggle to contain the pandemic is turning into a class struggle, which shows more and more clearly that the two great classes of society, the capitalist class and the working class, have irreconcilable interests. Official pandemic policy puts profits before human lives. We request:

Immediate shutdown of all non-essential businesses until the pandemic is under control! Full payment of wages for all workers concerned as well as real help for the self-employed and overall support for poor households! A globally coordinated vaccination campaign instead of nationalism and vaccine profits!

The development of a deadly fourth wave of the pandemic underscores the importance of the SGP campaign and the urgency of this program.


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