For the autumn and winter, German corona experts are expecting more infections again and also consider bottlenecks in the health system to be possible due to a lack of staff. “I expect that many of us will have another corona infection in the next few months,” said virologist Sandra Ciesek from the University Hospital Frankfurt in a video link.

In the hospital it will certainly be exhausting again. It is a “nervous factor” for everyone when the cold season comes – similar to last year. Most of those affected were eventually absent for a week. The illness itself is annoying, but also the absences in the circle of colleagues.

Adapted vaccine should be available from September 18th

As long as Omikron circulates, she is relatively relaxed, said Ciesek. She then sees no danger that the situation will change significantly or that government measures will be imposed again. When asked if she was concerned about the recently emerged virus variants, she said: “not really”. In particular, there are still many unanswered questions about the relatively strongly mutated subline BA.2.86, also known as Pirola. She rated it as a matter of time before proof could be found in Germany as well.

The Federal Ministry of Health confirmed that the vaccine from Biontech, which has been adapted to current Omicron variants, should be available in practices from the week of September 18th. There is also a Moderna vaccine in the federal central warehouse – if a doctor prescribes it, it will be delivered and paid for.

There is still no approval for the adapted vaccine from Moderna. If it is available and Moderna decides to offer it as part of standard care, the vaccine will also be paid for by health insurance if doctors prescribe it as part of the Stiko recommendation. The ministry thus rejected information from the North Rhine-Westphalia Association of Pharmacists in the “Rheinische Post” that only the Biontech vaccine would be paid for by the federal government.

Lack of staff in clinics can become a problem

Leif Sander from the Charité University Hospital in Berlin called on the groups that fall under the recommendation of the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) to have a booster vaccination with the adapted Sars-CoV-2 vaccine in autumn. These include, for example, people over 60 who were not recently infected with Sars-CoV-2. You can pick up the flu shot at the same time.

“It’s not just about Covid this year,” said Leif Sander from the Charité University Hospital in Berlin. As in the previous year, seasonal increases in infectious diseases, in combination with staff shortages, could quickly lead to the limits of capacity. “I think that will happen again this fall.” Bottlenecks threatened relatively quickly, especially in pediatric medicine and emergency rooms.

Stefan Kluge from the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) described the long-standing shortage of staff in Germany, especially in nursing, as the biggest problem in the intensive care units for the fall. Around a quarter of the intensive care beds are therefore not usable. However, the situation is currently stable. Of the 180 or so corona patients in intensive care units, a large proportion are actually being treated for other medical problems.

Kluge appealed to people to stay at home if they had symptoms of illness. “Of course you should try not to get infected.” Ciesek said that individually you can protect yourself very well with an FFP2 mask, for example if you don’t want to get sick before a transplant or before a planned trip. “We are out of the pandemic, but the viruses are still there,” says Sander.