Reprinted from Principia Scientifica
Written by The Daily Mail
The dire warning comes as Germany is racing to contain a record rise in coronavirus infections, with the country reporting 49,206 cases on Sunday – the highest number of new coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
‘Probably by the end of this winter, as is sometimes cynically said, pretty much everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, cured or dead,’ Shahn said, blaming the contagious Delta variant. ‘That is why we so urgently recommend vaccination.’
The German health minister’s warning comes as Austrians woke up to a nationwide lockdown – a move which sparked fierce backlash as tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Vienna at the weekend to protest against the measures.
Austrians were not alone in their demonstrations as violent protests broke out across Europe at the weekend in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Ireland over anti-Covid measures aimed at stemming spiralling cases.
The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte today slammed three nights of riots in several cities across the country as ‘pure violence’ by ‘idiots’ and vowed to prosecute those responsible.
Meanwhile, in Germany, politicians and health ministers are now debating whether to follow Austria’s example in making vaccinations compulsory, with some admitting that the move is ‘unavoidable’ amid a rise in infections.
Europe has become the epicentre of the pandemic once again, with the World Health Organisation warning that the Continent was the only region in the world where deaths had increased as Covid-related fatalities spiked by five per cent just last week.
In Germany, the fourth wave is overwhelming hospitals, with health chiefs warning that the situation is ‘extremely critical’ in intensive care units across the country.
‘We have a very, very difficult situation in many hospitals,’ Spahn said.
Despite widespread access to free coronavirus vaccines, just 68 per cent of the German population is fully vaccinated, a level experts say is too low to keep the pandemic under control.
Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany will need tighter restrictions to control a record-setting wave of infections after admitting that current measures are not enough to do so.
‘We are in a highly dramatic situation. What is in place now is not sufficient,’ Merkel told leaders of her German CDU party in a meeting.
On the issue of vaccine mandates, a spokesman for Merkel made clear that her government had no plans to tackle the thorny issue.
‘There is no decision about this now and it wouldn’t be taken by this government anymore,’ Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin.
Anger is mounting across Europe over the anti-Covid measures, which has seen thousands of people demonstrate in Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, Italy, Northern Ireland, Austria and North Macedonia on Saturday, a day after Dutch police opened fire on protesters and seven people were injured in rioting that erupted in Rotterdam.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday slammed three nights of unrest over anti-Covid measures as ‘pure violence’ by ‘idiots’ and vowed to prosecute those responsible.
The premier said riots in several cities around the country since Friday, which saw youths throw fireworks at police and vandalise buildings, ‘is pure violence under the guise of protest.
He added: ‘I will always fight for the right to demonstrate in this country. That is part of our democracy, of our rule of law, but what I will never accept is that idiots use sheer violence against the people who work for you and me every day… to keep this country safe under the guise of: We are dissatisfied.’
Last night saw 35,000 people descend on the Belgian capital Brussels to protest against new measures banning the unvaccinated from entering restaurants and bars.
The frustration is extending to as far as the Caribbean after France’s island Guadeloupe saw a week of violent protests following an announcement that coronavirus jabs would be mandatory for all healthcare workers.
In response, France has sent elite police and counter-terrorism officers to the French territory to help quell the unrest which saw clashes and looting.
It comes after the French government warned that the fifth wave of coronavirus infections are rising at ‘lightning speed’, with new daily Covid cases close to doubling over the past week.
In Germany, a relatively low vaccination rate – hovering under 70 per cent – has left the country vulnerable to the virus.
Now, the country’s ministers and health chiefs are questioning whether compulsory vaccination is the answer to the worsening situation.
The President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, said he sees mandatory vaccination as a ‘last resort’ and said Germany must think about compulsory vaccination.
He told ZDF newspaper: ‘The last resort, which is now being discussed again and again, is what is known as compulsory vaccination. And I’m with the World Health Organisation that we all don’t want that.
‘There is really no one who would like to have a mandatory vaccination. But if you have tried everything else, then the World Health Organisation also says that you have to think about compulsory vaccination.’
Meanwhile, Germany’s federal tourism commissioner Thomas Bareiß said the situation makes it clear that compulsory vaccination is ‘unavoidable’.
Bareiß told DPA news agency: ‘In retrospect, it was wrong not to see that right from the start. The hope at that time is understandable, but it was not realistic.’
His calls were echoed by the Prime Minister of Bavaria, where Covid cases have surged, who said ‘in the end we will not be able to avoid compulsory vaccination’.
The Health Minister of Bavaria, Klaus Holetschek, also said that while he had been an opponent of mandatory vaccinations, he now sees it as the only way to stop further restrictions and the spread of Covid.
He told Deutschlandfunk: ‘I believe that we can actually only get out of this endless loop if this mandatory vaccination is introduced.’
But others are not so sure, with the Prime Minister of Saarland, Tobias Hans, warning that compulsory vaccinations would divide society and spark protests, as Austria has seen in recent days.
Hans told Zeit Online: ‘The compulsory vaccination is not the debate that we need now,’ adding that not enough has been done ‘to really convince them that vaccination is the right way to go’.
Germany last week announced tougher coronavirus curbs to contain the worth wave, which has killed almost 100,000 people so far in the country, including 62 over the past 24 hours.
In regions with high hospitalisation rates, the unvaccinated will be barred from public spaces like cinemas, gyms and indoor dining.
Employees are asked to return to working from home whenever possible, while anyone going into the workplace has to prove they are vaccinated, recovered or have recently tested negative – a system known as ‘3G’.
The same rule applies on public transport in those areas.
Several of Germany’s hardest hit regions, including Bavaria and Saxony, have gone even further by cancelling large events such as Christmas markets and effectively barring the unvaccinated from non-essential public life.
All vaccinated adults have also been urged to get a booster shot to combat waning vaccine efficacy after six months.
Across the border in Austria, the streets were largely empty on Monday morning after the country entered a nationwide lockdown.
The nationwide lockdown – which had initially applied to the unvaccinated – stops 8.9 million people from leaving their homes unless for specific reasons such as buying groceries, going to the doctor or exercising.
The strict measures, which are set to last for 10 days but could extend to 20, comes as average daily deaths in Austria have tripled in recent weeks and some hospitals have warned that their intensive care units are reaching capacity.
Austria’s decision to enter a lockdown punctures earlier promises that tough virus restrictions would be a thing of the past. Over the summer, then-chancellor Sebastian Kurz had declared the pandemic ‘over’.
But plateauing inoculation rates, record case numbers and a spiralling death toll have forced the government to walk back such bold claims.
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg apologised to all vaccinated people on Friday as he announced the measures, saying it wasn’t fair that they had to suffer under the renewed lockdown restrictions. Earlier, Austria had tried out a lockdown just for unvaccinated people but it did not slow infections enough.
Chancellor Schallenberg also announced last week that the country will introduce a vaccine mandate as of February 1. The details of how the mandate will work aren’t yet clear, but the government has said that people who do not adhere to the mandate will face fines.
The vow to make Covid jabs mandatory led the head of one of Austria’s main opposition parties, Herbert Kickl, to warn the country is ‘now a dictatorship’, while branding the move ‘unconstitutional’ and calling on the country’s top court to intervene.
After taking office in October, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg criticised Austria’s ‘shamefully low’ vaccine rate – which is at 66 percent – and banned the un-jabbed from public spaces.
When that proved ineffective at squelching the latest round of infections, he announced a nationwide lockdown of 20 days, with an evaluation after 10 days.
Schools will remain open, although parents have been asked to keep their children at home if possible. Working remotely is also recommended.
Political analyst Thomas Hofer blamed Scahllenberg for maintaining ‘the fiction’ of a successfully contained pandemic for too long.
‘The government didn’t take the warnings of a next wave seriously,’ he said. ‘The chaos is evident.’
Meanwhile, Slovakia on Monday introduced restrictions for people unvaccinated against Covid-19, the health ministry said, as the central European country battles one of the world’s highest coronavirus infection rates.
Unvaccinated people are not allowed to enter stores other than those considered essential, such as grocery stores, drugstores or pharmacies – even with a negative coronavirus test.
‘We have resorted to a vigorous lockdown of the unvaccinated, because we need to protect them,’ Prime Minister Eduard Heger said earlier on public broadcaster RTVS.
Heger also said that he would propose to the government mandatory vaccination for senior citizens.
Slovakia has the world’s fourth-highest infection rate at 917 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last seven days, according to an AFP calculation, after Slovenia, Austria and the neighbouring Czech Republic.
‘The high rate is due to many factors, the most important of which is that we have very few people vaccinated, ‘ Doctors Trade Union Association chairman Peter Visolajsky told AFP on Monday.
‘The adopted restrictions are still very weak, and they are not as effective as in the case of the previous variant of the coronavirus,’ Visolajsky said.
The expert said that better enforcement of the existing restrictions and ‘a more intensive vaccination could reduce the number of infections’.
‘Compulsory vaccination would be an important step in Slovakia but it must be medically justified,’ he added.
Last night, nearly 40,000 took to the streets of Brussels to protest against the return of strict anti-Covid measures banning the unvaccinated from entering restaurants and bars.
Some protesters were seen throwing projectiles at riot police and in response, officers fired water cannon and tear gas at the group. Police have made some arrests, but it is not immediately clear how many.
See more here: dailymail.co.uk
Header image: Bloomberg
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