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“First of all, immune people should be allowed to work again”

Mr. Reinhardt, from your point of view as the top representative of the German medical profession: How well is medical care going in the corona crisis?

Christian Geinitz

It is still going very well, especially compared to other European countries. This applies to both hospitals and outpatient care. The clinics have prepared as well as possible and are luckily still far from being overwhelmed.

The hospitals currently treat 7,000 people with Covid-19. 1500 are in intensive care units, 1100 are ventilated. The number of ventilation places has increased from 20,000 to 30,000. Is that enough?

At the moment, the capacities, which are ramping up massively, have not yet been exhausted. This enables us to accept Covid 19 patients from other countries and to show European solidarity. The problem is that we don’t have a complete overview of which capacities are still available in which house.

But there is the intensive care register, which the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine DIVI has developed together with the Robert Koch Institute and the German Hospital Society.

Yes, but participation there is voluntary. Of the 1160 hospitals with intensive care beds, only around 700 are covered, which is not enough. I am in favor of Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn using his recently adopted law to protect the population to make the reporting of the clinics on the DIVI platform mandatory. Then we could see exactly in which city, in which hospital and how many ventilation places are free, and use them quickly and sensibly.

How does the supply of protective equipment to clinics and practices work in the meantime?

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Everyone continues to suffer from the shortage of masks and protective clothing, but the situation has eased somewhat. The situation in outpatient nursing continues to be delicate, especially in nursing homes and old people’s homes. They urgently need better protection, since the course of the disease there is often much more severe and, unfortunately, there are now increasing numbers of deaths. The public interest is currently focused on the clinics and high-tech medicine, which are still in relatively good standing; protection in nursing is not yet of the necessary importance.

How is the corona test expanding?

An attempt is made to increase the number of tests from 50,000 to 200,000 a day. This is also correct, because this measure can, under certain circumstances, significantly isolate and treat patients who have been infected so far. However, laboratory specialists find that there are bottlenecks in the necessary reagents. I therefore advocate that German manufacturers be obliged to produce test reagents for the German market in this unusual situation. Only then will we have the necessary quantities.

There is a lot of discussion about the possible loosening of the contact block. Do you think that’s right?

We are in intensive exchange with the relevant ministries. A rational, scientifically sound strategy, which is also accepted across large parts of society, is required. If these prerequisites are met, we can and must think about a prudent and gradual lifting of the shutdown.

What could these criteria look like?

For example, one of many possible measures could be to test the population for antibodies on a large scale. Anyone who is immune because they have the infection behind them could then go back to work and participate in social life. These people would be the first to be released into normal life. The big advantage is that they are neither endangered nor endanger others.

Does the epidemic have a good medical point of view?

At best, we learn from the mistakes so that we are better armed for the next time. It must never happen again that we have too little protective material. Incidentally, I am firmly convinced that people are now thinking more about infection risks and protecting themselves better against them.

Do you mean by washing your hands more often?

Not only that, but also through vaccinations. Pneumococcal vaccination against pneumonia is in greater demand than it has been in a long time. And in the fall we’ll probably see the biggest rush for the flu shot in 50 years. Manufacturers should therefore already adjust their production capacities appropriately.

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