Meet Christina Berndt, science reporter for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. She has an opinion piece in today’s paper, complaining that nobody cares about vaccine mandates anymore:
Vaccine mandates should be the leading topic in Germany right now. … Right now, though … that is being drowned out by the shrill discussion about reopening mandates. … [T]he people can conclude but one thing – that vaccination is no longer so important. It’s a conclusion that can only please the virus.
There’s no question that Omicron has made a big difference to our situation. A few weeks ago … we could’ve only imagined a variant like this in our wildest dreams: a virus that, on average, is no longer quite as harmful humans and is also transmissible enough to marginalise the more dangerous variants. … If only we don’t immediately give in to the impatient demands for reopening and open every last door and gate before it, then the number of patients in hospitals and intensive care units in this Omicron wave in all likelihood will remain manageable.
Only the present situation has changed, though. The overall state of affairs remains a pandemic. Germany is still in the middle of it. This is due to our vaccination rates, which are still too low, and also, ironically, to the fact that relatively few people in this country have built up immune protection through infection. Omicron will do little to change this. …
Precisely because Omicron leads to milder disease on average, it produces considerably weaker immune response than its predecessors. Anyone who is infected with this variant, without having been vaccinated beforehand, can become infected again after a short time, even with Omicron. They are virtually unprotected against other variants. This is why this autumn in Germany will likely mark the beginning of a new chapter in this pandemic. It will be called “Delta reloaded”, perhaps “Pi” or “Psi.”
[I]f vaccine mandates are coming, then they must come quickly, because people must be vaccinated and boostered by autumn, when the pandemic starts again – otherwise, without comprehensive containment measures, it will likely prove ineffective. Those who base their decision about vaccine mandates the current situation, still haven't understood the purpose of vaccination. Vaccination is not about today, it’s about preventing harm tomorrow. …
There is no longer any point in typing detailed responses to drivel like this, which brims with latent internal contradictions and reflects the outlook of a dim, narrow-minded person, desperate for any reason to fear the virus. If SARS-2 causes severe illness, you have to fear it because it makes you sicker; if it’s milder, you have it fear it because it gives you less immunity. If things are dangerous right now, we need restrictions to save lives. If things are not dangerous right now, we need to stay closed anyway, otherwise more people might die in the future. Earlier, we needed vaccine mandates to protect our hospitals from Delta. Now that Delta is all but extinct and Omicron fails to threaten hospitals even as much as the flu, we need vaccine mandates because there might be new scary variants next fall.
Probably over 90% of all Germans have antibodies to SARS-2, whether from vaccination or infection. That alone is enough to declare the virus endemic, to say nothing of Omicron. Corona is over with. But people like Christina Berndt – primarily middle-aged people, from cities, with upper middle-class jobs – don’t want to Corona to be over. The Berndts of this world will never drop this, until they are alone and isolated with their ridiculous views. Some of them have learned to regard the restrictions as comforting, or as necessary virtues; others were already reclusive people and enjoy their more private lives; still others carry within them a pathological fear of this virus, and nobody will ever be able to talk them out of it.
Working on a longer piece, and dealing with one of my biannual migraines right now. Thanks for your patience.