COVID will become an endemic disease by the end of this year, according to German virologist Christian Drosten, who indicated that vaccinating the entire population every few months is not a viable long-term strategy.
“We hope to reach an endemic situation. By the end of the year, we will either have reached it or we will be practically there,” Drosten said during a press conference in Berlin with Health Minister Karl Lauterbach and the president of the Robert Koch Institute for Virology (RKI), Lothar Wieler.
The virologist at the Charité hospital emphasized the importance of quickly immunizing the largest possible percentage of the population and raised a hypothetical future in which older citizens get a booster dose against COVID each fall similar to the annual flu shot.
“It’s not about vaccinating the entire population every few months,” Drosten pointed out, as this is something that “doesn’t work”.
On the contrary, he stated, There will come a time when it will be necessary to let the virus itself “update” the population’s immunity, a process that in other countries is “more advanced”.
“The question is whether we can do this already in Germany,” said Drosten, hinting that it is still too early to take that risk.
According to the president of the RKI, Lothar Wieler, the arrival of a fifth wave linked to the omicron variant marks the beginning of a “new phase” of the pandemic, in which the rate of hospitalizations will be more relevant than the total number of cases. .
According to Wieler, the omicron variant already predominates in Germany and represents 70% of the total cases, while currently one in every hundred people in the country is infected with the virus.
For his part, the Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach evaluated the situation positively and stated that, if it is possible to accelerate the vaccination campaign for the soda dose, the wave will be under control, although he stressed the need to better monitor compliance of the restrictions.
The minister expressed himself once again in favor of the compulsory vaccine from the age of 18, since, according to what he said, the variant omicron “it will not be the last, that can be ruled out” and could be replaced by a more aggressive mutation.
“If there is no mandatory vaccine, in the fall we will be in a worrying situation, we will have a large number of people from risk groups who will not be vaccinated,” he said, stressing that he wants to avoid the situation where it is necessary to discuss a new confinement.