With regard to the corona virus, the epidemiologist Klaus Stöhr looks to autumn and especially to the Oktoberfest. In an interview, he reveals his prognosis and opinion on vaccination.
Munich – The epidemiologist Klaus Stöhr has worked, among other things, as head of the global influenza program for the World Health Organization and in vaccine development. He is a member of the expert committee for the evaluation of the corona measures.
Mr Stöhr, we have been seeing falling corona numbers for weeks. Is the summer wave collapsing?
Yes, as expected, since each person only has a certain number of contacts for passing on the virus in a limited period of time. Once that has been exhausted by the virus – that is, those who are susceptible in the area have contracted it – the cases decrease again. That’s what we’re seeing right now. Then follows a wave trough, people mix again, there are new possibilities of infection and everything starts all over again – but fortunately to an ever weaker extent because of the progressive immunization.
What does that mean for the coming weeks and months?
The burden on the hospitals is always decisive. There, too, we are currently seeing the movement in the direction of the trough. So late summer and early fall will be comparatively relaxed. Then, due to the strong seasonality of Covid 19, the diseases will increase again before the end of the year – as will be the case every year in the future. In addition, there will also be many “catch-up infections” this winter. Not all have yet gained natural immunity through multiple infections. The pressure on the intensive care units will therefore be beyond what we saw in “normal” years before the pandemic, but nowhere near as strong as last winter – even though there will be no such strict measures this winter to contain the virus.
The corona virus resists research with ever new mutations. That could soon be over. Thanks to an antibody called “SP1-77” that could serve as a universal vaccine.
Epidemiologist Stöhr makes a forecast for Oktoberfest 2022
At the Munich Oktoberfest at the end of September, millions of people will celebrate together in beer tents. A good idea?
Basically, I think the Oktoberfest in Munich is a good idea (laughs). Of course, from an epidemiological point of view, it would be better this time if it didn’t take place until next summer. Because yes, there will be more infections at the Wiesn, which will also result in some serious courses. On the other hand, it is right to gradually return to normality. And I don’t think that the Oktoberfest will lead to the Munich hospitals being overburdened with corona patients. As in Germany as a whole, the reaction to the situation in winter depends on the political interpretation. It is not for nothing that the measures between the European countries differ so enormously: just take the examples of England, Switzerland, Spain or Denmark compared to Germany.
What do you mean?
In Denmark, for example, high numbers of infections without severe symptoms are dealt with more calmly than in Germany. The vaccination campaign was stopped in May and will not be restarted until autumn. There are no more measures in the schools there either. One thing is clear: the virus will not go away and everyone will become infected; several times in his life. With these natural immunizations, preferably after the first vaccination, especially for the vulnerable, the protection will increase. But as tragic as it is: some deaths simply cannot be prevented at present – despite vaccines, medication and a good healthcare system. And there won’t be any other better options for intervention.
Coronavirus: Epidemiologist recommends fourth vaccination from September
The Stiko now recommends the fourth vaccination from the age of 60. Are you going with me?
As an individual expert, I can’t give you a better assessment than the Stiko. However, I would generally advise not getting the fourth vaccination until September. Because only then does it offer protection throughout the winter.