The far-right anti-vaccination movement is pushing Germany into the COVID-19 death spiral

HAMBURG–Germany is trying to cope with a fourth wave of COVID-19 raging as the country this week recorded the highest number of cases amid unchanged vaccination rates, Political decision-making is fracturedand increasingly progressive anti-vaccination movement.

According to the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s disease control agency, more than 16 million people aged 12 and over – about a third of the country’s population – are still unvaccinated.pandemic of the unvaccinated. ”

On Thursday, Germany Be recorded More than 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 are reported daily and reached its highest incidence in seven days since the start of the pandemic, at 249.9 cases per 100,000 population. The Robert Koch Institute says people who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated now face “very high” risk to their health.

About 97,000 COVID-related deaths have been reported in Germany since the pandemic began two years ago, but according to Christian Drosten, director of the Institute of Virology at Charité Berlin, if the crisis continues to unfold At present, there could be 100,000 more deaths. .

Recent polls show the German government’s inability to convince unvaccinated people to get stabbed. ONE survey authorized by the German health ministry, published in October, found that 65% of those who had so far refused to inject said they were “certainly not” taking the vaccine in the next two months, while Another 23% said they would “Probably not” get the vaccine.

Public health experts point to wide regional variations in policies enacted across the country. Under Germany’s federal system, health authorities in 16 states — rather than the central government — are responsible for deciding health and infrastructure restrictions.

Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, a virologist at the University of Hamburg, told The Daily Beast: “There should have been stronger measures taken. “This increase was expected. But in some states in Germany, prevention is not being taken with too much enthusiasm and there are currently overcrowded ICUs and hospitals. This is a very regional phenomenon.”

But states that have chosen to enforce stricter rules are facing increasingly active opposition from anti-vaxxers. On Monday, Saxony became the first state to introduce a so-called “2G” rule, meaning only fully vaccinated people and those who have recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months, are allowed. dine indoors at restaurants. bars or many other areas of public life. Unvaccinated people can no longer get by showing a negative COVID test. Thousands of anti-vaxxers protested against that policy in the city of Leipzig over the weekend, leading to dozens of arrests.

“I worry about the violence I see every day.”

Anti-vax protesters have repeatedly attacked police officers, in defiance of civilian authorities, and last August, during a demonstration of 40,000 people in Berlin, jumped over police barriers and climbed bridges. ladder of the German Parliament.

Growing extremism has caused serious concern among security officials. Earlier this year, the German intelligence agency speak it will survey members of the anti-vax movement at risk of “state authorization.” Last week, Stephan Kramer, head of domestic intelligence in the eastern state of Thuringia, also warned of increasing radicalization among coronavirus killers.


“November 13, 2021, Bavaria, Wunsiedel: A long line in front of the Corona vaccination center in Wunsiedel. Photo: Nicolas Armer / dpa (Photo by Nicolas Armer / photo alliance via Getty Images)”

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According to Pia Lamberty, a psychologist and expert in the German conspiracy scene, this escalation led to the fundamental failure of the German authorities to deal with the situation of the anti-racists. fighting crime since the pandemic began.

“There are a large number of groups trying to campaign against vaccines,” Lamberty told The Daily Beast. “The violence stemming from these movements has been underestimated by the government. They have been progressive for a long time. We should have had containment measures, but right now we are in a state of emergency.”

According to Lamberty, anti-vaxism in Germany dates back to decades before National Socialism. But even now, she said, the movement is known for its use of anti-epidemic forms. Vaccine skeptic members of the QAnon movement are associated with neo-Nazi networks, and in Bavaria, anti-vaxxers have organized signs stating “Vaccinations set you free“A reference to the Nazi concentration camps.

“It is based on distrust of government.”

“I worry about the violence I see every day,” adds Lamberty. “Many doctors have been receiving death threats. There needs to be a quicker response from the police and more must be done to address right-wing beliefs and misinformation.”

Over the past year, Germany’s anti-closure measures have created a strong coalition of anti-vaxxers, who make up between 5 and 10 percent of Germany’s population, or 8 million people, according to the Institute, according to the Robert Koch Institute. Robert Koch.

In the run-up to the September 26 general election, the Alternative Deutschland Party (AfD), a German right-wing populist party that won nearly 13% of the vote in the last election, campaigned follow an anti-subversive, anti-mask agenda. ONE poll by Forsa found that half of the unvaccinated said they were AfD voters.

Kai Arzheimer, a professor of political science at the University of Mainz, says the far right is successfully using the pandemic to gain support. “It’s based on distrust of government,” he told The Daily Beast. “There have been a lot of mixed messages. A series of regulatory changes in Germany have contributed to the turmoil we are experiencing. That’s really in line with what the AfD is doing. “

Experts warn that political indecision is costing lives as vaccination rates lag behind the rest of Western Europe. Following the German elections in September, the interim coalition government proposed a set of COVID rules — including bringing back free coronavirus tests for all — but critics argue More stringent measures such as mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers have been ignored, which is not enough. in response to extremism and that the coalition is sending the wrong message by planning for the state of emergency to lapse by the end of November.

Instead, fear is that, with staffing reductions at hospitals, abandoned pop-up testing infrastructure and an increasingly mobile population, the country is facing a growing virus. flare up again as winter approaches, with defenses weaker than ever.

“It is very important for the government to act, but we are having problems with the recent elections,” virologist Schmidt-Chanasit told The Daily Beast. “They are not really in charge. It is a critical time for decisions, but they cannot yet be properly implemented. | The far-right anti-vaccination movement is pushing Germany into the COVID-19 death spiral


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