“Anne Will”: “Mind changed every few days”

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A prime minister under pressure: With “Anne Will”, Armin Laschet had to be asked whether he would not gamble away Germany’s pandemic luck. The NRW state father vehemently defended his easing course – and attacked the guild of virologists.

The German Chancellor is a discreet person. Power struggles are preferably fought behind closed meeting doors. And yet it was clear to most observers whose easing exercises in the corona crisis Angela Merkel had blamed in the Bundestag as “brisk, maybe too brisk”. The alleged addressee Armin Laschet sat on the first night with moderator “Anne Will” and explained briskly, perhaps too briskly, why Germany could no longer afford such a strict shutdown as before. There was not much left of Laschet’s cozy “measure and middle” rhetoric. The Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, with ambitions for the CDU chairmanship, looked attacked, but consistently keen to fight.

“You have to weigh it up,” was the main message of the Aachen resident, who asked: “What damage is being done by the measures that we have been going through for weeks?” Laschet referred to orphanages, rehabs, emergency departments. He warned of “million times unemployment” – at the same time “40 percent of intensive care beds are free in North Rhine-Westphalia”. He vehemently defended his liberal course due to the corona crisis, which had been well contained so far, as “not brisk, but appropriate”.

Nevertheless, Armin Laschet is also beginning to see what it would mean for his political ambitions if, as feared by leading virologists, he is soon refuted by a “second wave” of exponential infection growth. The presence of Karl Lauterbach ensured that the height of the fall could not be forgotten. The SPD health expert, who countered a lonely talk show attendance record in 2020, was more emphatic in the “Anne Will” studio than the somewhat pale Greens boss Annalena Baerbock, the determined opponent of Laschet. “The whole debate about easing hurts,” said the epidemiologist. “It means that the easing is interpreted more generously.”

Karl Lauterbach warns: “Substantial consequential damage up to dementia”

In recent days, Lauterbach has explained the idea that Germany could have become “the South Korea of ​​Europe” with just a few more weeks of shutdown patience – that is, could have tracked the cases of infection individually – in front of television cameras so often that he already has it here no longer spelled out. “We definitely have to avert the catastrophe,” Lauterbach said briefly and succinctly, and he warned against identifying intensive care capacities as a panacea. Politician. “Even the survivors will sometimes have significant consequential damage, including dementia.”

The Munich-based science journalist Christina Berndt from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” agreed with Lauterbach: “It is not that we have finally achieved anything or that we have the crisis under control. At the moment, one can say that Germany is the world leader in the pandemic Combat. It’s sad to see how we gamble so lightly. ” She immediately rejected the trial and error principle suggested by the FDP chief in attendance: “Mr. Lindner says you can take a measure back.” However, he overlooked the fact that one could only react to a changed epidemic situation by delaying the incubation period. Berndt: “You can’t take back what the virus has done in the meantime.”

Annalena Baerbock’s objection that one could create “insane insecurity among the population” through insufficiently justified criteria for easing measures was again evident from the Prime Minister. He was also unsettled. However, not from his own policy, but from the advice of the experts. According to Laschet, the virologists had predicted a catastrophic peak of infection. “It didn’t come.” Suddenly there was talk of this ominous R-factor, after it had always been said before that the doubling of the number of cases was the yardstick. He even attacked the virologist Alexander Kekulé by name. He recently asked for something completely different in the “Spiegel” than in the talk shows for weeks. Laschet: “If the mind is changed every few days, it will also be difficult for politics.”

Again it was up to science journalist Berndt to kindly state that the father of the country thinks that the point is a bit too complex. She could understand his annoyance, but it was right to switch from the doubling number to the reproductive number. The doubling had become too imprecise in view of the restricted spread. “Every number has its time.” If Germany were to be hit by an even more violent second wave of infection, another number would be important: that of new infections. Lauterbach did not miss the opportunity to teach Christian Lindner that such a much more difficult to control second wave was “devastating for the economy”.

Anne Will is stunned: “But you are the Prime Minister!”

But the economy is not everything, for example, it is also important to keep an eye on the well-being of children and the fairness of training. “The school openings went well,” Laschet summed up again his efforts in this direction. Lauterbach contests: “You have no idea whether you went well, you don’t even know the number of infections”. Baerbock contradicted more fundamentally: She was shocked that the school openings had not been adequately prepared for weeks. Laschet didn’t even want to deny that. However, he did not see the blame on his state government. “For us, that is the responsibility of the school authorities, and that is the respective city.” He said to the municipalities: “What did you do !?” The sludge minister set up a hotline, but hardly anyone answered. Anne Will reacted somewhat stunned: “But you are the prime minister!”

It then became even more spirited for the – long – conclusion of a consistently lively “Anne Will” edition. The stimulus topic Bundesliga restart made it possible. “We gamble away social cohesion because it is deeply unfair to allow the Bundesliga if children cannot even swing,” feared Annalena Baerbock. Christian Lindner took a stand against this with what he saw as the DFL’s hygienic concept. Why should one forbid responsible things just because others (such as handball players) do not have the financial strength to handle such logistical efforts? No one was surprised that Karl Lauterbach denied the whole concept his blessing.

In the end, the moderator was particularly pleased, as she summed it up with relish: Finally, a lively talk culture about the subject of Corona!

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