Sports, culture, schools and daycares must remain open

Berlin – How does the Corona pandemic develop in the fall and winter? And what should an appropriate response look like? The Federal Government’s Council of Experts designed and strategized for different scenarios. In the worst case, experts predict that a new type of virus quickly adapts to the human immune system, is highly contagious and leads to a dangerous development of the disease, even in those who have been fully vaccinated. The health care system will once again reach its limits, and the intensive care and emergency medicine units will be overburdened.

In this case, experts predict a “dangerous bottleneck in children’s hospitals.” The situation will be aggravated by failures in the medical and nursing staff. The recommendation states: “Special support for children’s hospitals, among other things, through professional groups to ease care.” This includes specialists, among others, pharmaceutical technical assistants and medical specialists.

According to the assessment of the RWI-Leipniz Institute, only 339 clinics in Germany have a pediatric ward. The supply situation is critical in some places, especially in the region. The professional association GKind estimates the staffing shortage in the current Departments of Pediatrics and Adolescents with approximately 3,000 full-time vacancies even during normal operation.

In the event of another outbreak of the epidemic, the Federal Government’s Council of Experts has set the following central requirement: “Securing social participation through attendance at school and nurseries as well as sports and cultural activities should remain a priority.” To make this possible, the scientists are proposing mandatory CO2 measurements in the classroom. They call for “appropriate hygiene and protection measures in schools and day care centres.” On the other hand, only children and adolescents with symptoms of corona should be screened. Preventive testing is recommended when new and more serious variants are spread. If it is voluntary, the costs should be covered, “especially for families in need”.

The Expert Council also considers research into and care for the psychological effects of the epidemic on children essential. There is now a consensus that previous lockdowns led to mental problems in teens. The annual Prevention Radar series of surveys for the 2020/2021 school year recorded an increase in depressive moods.

With the light corona wave, other respiratory diseases can increase

According to experts, pediatrics will be burdened even in the best-case scenario. Then, when the corona mutation predominates, this could lead to disease developments that are milder than the current omicron variant and would only require “more effective infection control measures” for vulnerable groups. Meanwhile, “there can be higher numbers of infections from other respiratory pathogens such as influenza” in children. However, staff shortages are not only leading to bottlenecks in the healthcare sector, but also in economic life as a whole.

Finally, there is still a basic scenario. The disease burden of SARS-CoV-2 will remain virtually unchanged. The expert council wrote in its recommendation.

The Committee considers that an accurate overview of the status of the data is critical. The dynamics of infection, the severity of disease, and the burden on the health care system must be systematically recorded. “The registration of these standards must be established in a sustainable and detailed manner in order to make the system resilient for the future after Covid-19.”

The Expert Council expects this to provide a rapid response to the rapidly changing infection process. However, this also requires a “solid legal basis for infection control measures”. The federal and state governments must coordinate centrally. The scholars propose a “national, unified and rapid communication as far as possible of all current regulations and recommendations.”

They claim that Covid patients should be able to obtain a drug against the virus more easily than before. Preparations such as Baxlovid, when taken in time, can prevent the exacerbation of severe disease.

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