Criminal inaction by European governments has allowed the highly contagious and partially resistant to Omicron vaccines variant of the coronavirus to spread across the continent. To this day, the German government refuses to take action to prevent the impending disaster.
Last Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Omicron would become the predominant variant on the continent “by mid-January”. Since then, between December 16 and 19, 1,533 cases of Omicron have been confirmed in the European Union and European Economic Area, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). This means that of the 4,691 total cases of Omicron reported in 28 European countries so far, around one in three cases have occurred in the past few days.
The exponential spread of Omicron comes on top of the creeping variant of Delta, which has infected around 2.5 million people in Europe and killed 25,000 in the past week. Germany currently has the most COVID-19 deaths in Western Europe, with more than 370 people dying every day and hospitals completely at their limit.
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI, the German agency responsible for disease control and prevention), the Omicron variant has already been detected in all German states except Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The official share of total infections has already increased sixfold from 0.1% to 0.6% in the first week of December and will now be several times higher. The actual numbers are certainly even higher since only 1.3% of positive PCR tests undergo the genomic sequencing necessary to identify the variant.
All serious doctors and scientists warn that the unhindered spread of the Omicron variant threatens to trigger mass death far eclipsing anything seen before and during the pandemic.
Carsten Watzl, secretary general of the German Society for Immunology, warned in the Augsburger Allgemeine that “even after being boosted, the protection against infection by Omicron could only be about 75%”. Also, it cannot be assumed that Omicron is “more harmless” than the Delta variant, Watzl pointed out. On Friday, a British Imperial College study found “no evidence” for the widely reported claim.
The national weekly Time speaks of a “wave of unprecedented strength”, whose growth curve has the shape of a “wall”. The Association of German Hospitals fears a situation that “goes beyond anything we have experienced so far” and threatens to happen “before the current high occupancy rate in intensive care units does not has dropped significantly.” Already, crematoria are fielding additional teams and the military is airlifting intensive care patients across the country to find beds.
Despite this catastrophic development, the German government is sticking to its policy of lethal mass infection, insisting that there will be no life-saving shutdown of public life, not even briefly. Shortly before the Christmas holidays, when families traditionally gather, children must continue to go to dangerous schools and workers to dangerous factories, no matter what, in order to generate the maximum profit for the capitalist oligarchy.
Talk to Bericht in Berlin On Sunday evening, the new Federal Minister of Health, Karl Lauterbach (Social Democrat, SPD), declared: “A confinement like in the Netherlands before Christmas, we will not have that here. In an exclusive interview with the notoriously right-wing channel Bild, he added that there would be no “hard lockdown” even after Christmas, nor a “Christmas break” or even “region-limited lockdowns”.
Instead, according to Lauterbach, the population “must be prepared” to experience high case rates by “early January at the latest.”
“Omicron is here and will spread,” he said. This development is “no longer stoppable”.
The summit of federal and state governments, which took place yesterday, rejected a lockdown entirely out of hand. His resolution does not envisage any new restrictions on factories and businesses, nor an early closure of child care centres. Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Green Party) also on Monday rejected any “lockdown that would affect schools, child care centers and cultural events”.
The resolution states that while clubs and discos will be temporarily closed, restaurants will remain open. In private households – where restrictions are impossible to enforce – a contact restriction of “a maximum of 10 vaccinated or recovered people” is to apply from December 28, excluding children under 14 .
Significantly, the RKI issued “strategic amendments” to its pandemic plan on the same day, demanding “maximum contact reduction” and “maximum infection prevention measures” – which should “begin at once”. According to the news magazine Der Spiegel and tabloid PictureHealth Minister Lauterbach and Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) reacted “angrily” to these demands which had “not been coordinated” with the government.
The federal and state governments know full well the deadly consequences of their criminal inaction. The expert council set up specifically by the new coalition government, which includes serious scientists and pro-government advocates of herd immunity, published an article on Sunday that speaks of “enormous challenges” for governance and of a “new dimension” to the pandemic situation.
The statement, adopted unanimously by the 19 scientists, states:
If the spread of the Omicron variant in Germany continued in this way, a relevant part of the population would be simultaneously sick and/or in quarantine. It would put a strain on the health care system and all the essential infrastructure of our country. Other collateral effects are to be expected, particularly in the working population, among other things due to the need to take care of children or people in need of medical assistance.
The article paints a picture of a catastrophic situation not seen in Germany since the end of World War II:
Rapidly increasing incidence rates pose a high risk to Germany’s critical infrastructure. This includes hospitals, police, fire brigade, emergency services, telecommunications, electricity and water supply and related logistics. Therefore, full and immediate preparations are required to protect our nation’s critical infrastructure.
Regarding the already dire situation in hospitals that will be exacerbated by Omicron, the newspaper states:
Due to the simultaneous and extreme volume of patients, a significant overload of hospitals is to be expected (…). Even if all hospitals focus exclusively on the management of emergencies and urgent interventions, it will no longer be possible to provide qualitatively adequate care to all patients. Strategic patient transfer can no longer contribute significantly to regional relief due to the expected high load in all areas.
The explosive spread of the Omicron variant and the profit-oriented pandemic policies of governments confirm the prospect of the World Socialist Website. The pandemic is not a purely medical problem but rather the result of deliberate policies that put the profit of a narrow financial elite and the stability of financial markets ahead of the health and lives of millions of people. The refusal of the new German government to close schools and businesses, even for a few days, should serve as a warning and a wake-up call to workers.
An internationally coordinated program of action is needed in which the economy is reduced to the essentials with full wage compensation for those affected. School, daycare and retail closures must be accompanied by comprehensive mass testing, systematic quarantine and isolation measures in the pursuit of the global elimination of the coronavirus, financed by the expropriation of profiteers of the pandemic.
The Network of Basic Committees for Safe Education in Germany will convene its next online meeting today at 8:00 p.m. (CET) to discuss this prospect and organize the fight against the pandemic.