Karl Lauterbach: Warner with inaccuracies

fact finder

Status: December 6th, 2021 11:35 a.m.

The designated Health Minister Lauterbach is valued as an expert. But some of his claims were not substantiated, for example about corona numbers on Mallorca or stretched cannabis.

By Patrick Gensing, editorial office at ARD-faktenfinder

Karl Lauterbach’s assessments are in great demand in the corona pandemic. The doctor and health economist gives his assessments of current pandemic events and specialist questions in numerous talk shows. The SPD politician is also active on Twitter and, with almost 700,000 profiles that follow his account, has a very large reach by German standards.

However, Lauterbach has not always been correct with his statements in the past few months – or has not always been able to provide evidence. In the spring, for example, he claimed that the number of cases recorded in Mallorca was probably incorrect. He also suggested that the appearance of a new Corona variant would be played down in order not to harm tourism. Statements that caused outrage and contradiction in Spain – and could not be substantiated either.

In June, Lauterbach claimed in a discussion about the dangers of the Delta variant that many children with Covid-19 were already being treated in hospitals in Great Britain.

Upon request from tagesschau.de Lauterbach explained that his testimony was based on a minister from Scotland who reported more children in hospitals, but later put this into perspective. In fact, the numbers from Great Britain showed no significant increases, he admitted.

Allegations by Lauterbach about nocturnal mobility were speculative, as was his criticism of possible infections at the European Championship final at Wembley in the summer.

Bad communication?

In mid-October, Lauterbach received criticism on Twitter from the virologist Jonas Schmidt-Chansit. It was triggered by a tweet in which Lauterbach wrote in relation to Covid-19: “A lot still needs to be done for the many who have survived Covid. Studies clearly show that the disease significantly accelerates the aging process. You age in fast motion and will be more susceptible to chronic diseases. “

Schmidt-Chanasit commented on this with a reference to guidelines for the communication of scientific findings. In this way, representations “that aroused unfounded fears or hopes” should be avoided. In doing so, he was obviously aiming to ensure that Lauterbach only referred to one study, but wrote of several – and that many questions in this context are still unanswered.

Last year the ARD fact finder several examples of inaccurate or unsubstantiated statements by Lauterbach are documented.

After the publication, the SPD politician thanked the editorial staff for their constructive criticism. It is difficult to always strike the right note on Twitter, so that on the one hand people understand the message, but on the other hand the scientific nature is preserved, said Lauterbach. He wants to try even more in the future.

Heroin im Cannabis?

As Federal Minister of Health, his tweets and statements are likely to be perceived even more strongly by the public – including internationally.

In addition, Lauterbach would then be jointly responsible for the planned legalization of cannabis. He had already promoted this cause during the election campaign – albeit with a questionable argument. “More and more often, the illegally sold street cannabis is being mixed with a new type of heroin that can be smoked. This quickly drives cannabis users into a heroin addiction,” said Lauterbach. But investigative authorities and experts said on request that this was either not known or rather a “drug myth”.


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