BERLIN — The COVID-19 pandemic is over in Germany, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said Wednesday.
Lauterbach, an epidemiologist, said at a press conference he made this assessment based on looking at virus variants, vaccination rates and hospital cases.
“We have successfully overcome the pandemic in Germany and also with a good balance sheet,” the Social Democrat added.
Lauterbach, known for his initially cautious COVID-19 policies during the global health crisis, has adopted a different tone lately. He was an MP at the start of the pandemic, but still had considerable influence on the government, then led by conservative Angela Merkel, as an expert in the field, frequently appearing on talk shows and gaining attention on social media.
Lauterbach said he could understand that there was an interest in asking what had gone wrong during the crisis, but argued Germany’s strategy as a whole had worked out “because, after all, the reasonable ones and those who have been helpful in Germany have mastered the challenges.”
However, Lauterbach added, there are some things that, in retrospect, should have been done differently. “I believe that the long school closures were not so necessary,” he said.
On Tuesday, the government’s COVID-19 expert council met for the last time. After this Friday, all protective government measures against the pandemic will come to an end, including remaining mask requirements such as for hospital visitors.