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Drosten, Corona Astrologer, Noted Hysteric: "We have to open the door for the virus here and there"
Omicron looks to be the first exit ramp, that anybody in government wants to take.
At the very start of the Corona pandemic, German state media gave the virologist Christian Drosten his own regular podcast. Through the 125 episodes that have been inflicted upon the Germanophone world since, Drosten has lent his authority and opinion to whatever policies the government happens to be pursuing at the moment. He started out relatively relaxed, but when containment mania seized Merkel’s cabinet, he dutifully joined the ranks of lockdown hardliners. You could never close too soon, you could never open too late. Infections were always about to peak sometime in the summer. That was Christian Drosten, Corona astrologer.
Now there is a new variant and a new government, and Drosten has begun to sing a different tune. People, who somehow made it through all of these months and all of those podcast episodes without once asking themselves what Drosten was up to and what his purpose might be, are actually surprised.
“All of a sudden the cautious Drosten is sounding quite different,” declares Thomas Vitzthum, in a hilarious Welt article.
He’s saying Omicron isn’t very dangerous!
The virologist now acknowledges that disease severity is lower in Omicron. “I think it’s fair to say that by now.” He also says in the podcast produced with NDR: “The admission rates to intensive care units are rising very slowly [in the UK], really quite slowly. In fact, so slowly that one has the impression right now: Maybe it's not such a big problem."
He is qualifying the hospitalisation numbers!
“We have to differentiate: In the hospital admissions, we see that more than half were not admitted because of Corona, but because of other things ..., and in the admission screening ... they emerge as Corona patients. Corona is not the primary diagnosis. And at the same time, you don’t necessarily see this direct progression to the ICU at the moment.” That’s seen only very rarely. “That is of course relatively reassuring right now.”
He wants to abolish quarantine for the contacts of infected persons!
Drosten is prepared to allow more infections with the milder Omicron variant: “We're not tearing down the gates completely, but we have to open the door for the virus here and there.” Politicians would have to decide where. He also states his goal: Corona “will become endemic” and “it must become endemic.” Drosten is not in agreement with demands for more lockdowns.
Suddenly, Drosten, who never met a case wave that couldn’t bring him to hyperventilation, is bringing out his old trial-balloon talking point from 3 September again, declaring that we should regard “breakthrough infections” in the vaccinated as totally normal.
“He continues to warn the unvaccinated,” Vitzthum says, “but without prophesying impending disaster” for them. You can taste the vague, confused disappointment. Even Drosten’s podcast host, NDR, has posted a carefully muted article on the episode, under a headline screaming that “Booster-Doses Provide Better Protection Against Omicron.”
It is like I wrote yesterday: Large parts of the bureaucratic and the political leadership want to end this. It is finally clear to everyone that no amount of vaccination will eradicate SARS-2. This is a virus that was already underwhelming relative to our extravagant countermeasures, and nobody wants to be associated with further chaos and shutdowns over the still milder Omicron. There is, however, in the panic of the journalists and the civil service, a great inertia pressing for more measures, now and always. Talking them down will be no easy task, especially after they spent all these months filling them with fear. Drosten and his political minders have an enormous problem before them, one entirely of their own making. Maybe government by panic isn’t such a great idea after all.