The Chancellor and the 16 non-cooperative ones

Dear readers,

Yesterday our chancellor Angela Merkel had deliberated with the 16 state governors upon the upcoming procedures in the current pandemic situation.

The press releases indicate that there were discussions but no tangible results – in a situation that does not allow for delays – and be it just a week.

Cartoon: Oliver Hoogvliet

We admire our chancellor’s patience with the 16 uncooperative governors on their 16 hills. The coming year is an election year. That means that every politician is locked in a catch-22. Every non-popular decision might cost votes in the short term.

But don’t we want to have a government that is taking care of the population in times of crisis, such as a pandemic? This unfortunately does include unpopular protective measures. Isn’t a good leadership linked to long term goals, to stave off any harm (as chancellor Merkel had put it) and to not make short term populist decisions?

Let’s take a look at last week’s infection numbers:

Weekly new infections in Germany; data source: Johns Hopkins University

Numbers of new infections declined by 13 % compared to the previous week.

Is this sufficient? This small success is not yet a sufficient one. It is just a sign that the imposed measures seem to work. But it also says that the measures are not yet sufficient.

What did Germany do differently compared to some of our neighbors?

We have a head of government who understands a pandemic’s dynamics and who does not shy away from unpopular decisions. Since she does not go for a re-election she has the liberty to act. That is why Germany in spring and fall imposed measures just in time before infection numbers would have spiraled out of control.

It is exactly these two (!) weeks that make the difference.

We are happy that the government’s communication with the people is getting better.

Unfortunately, there are still large parts of the community, who do not comprehend, what is important now. This may be seen in the media. People chatting in close contact without a face mask, or school classes that are less densely populated, but students are huddled together instead of using the whole space to spread out. This completely misses the point of the protective measures. Even the teachers do not realize it. There are far too many of such examples.

Our advice for the holiday season: Many people now wish to plan their Christmas events. Now, in a pandemic that is teetering on a knife’s edge, and which might derail any time, this is a rather foolish question. As virologists we suggest: As soon as the protective measures are weakened or even lifted, infection numbers will increase. The virus does not care about holidays. We agree with Anthony Fauci, to only celebrate in the closest family circle. Send parcels, write festive letters, pick up the phone, and pay attention to some contemplation and respect. Make your friends and family happy from a distance. Give happiness, NOT THE VIRUS.

Look forward to the new vaccines, that might be available next year. Even if there is some outdoing in the press, which is giving some signs of hope, this can not replace correctly performed studies and scientific evaluation. The vaccines will take some time.

In the end, this means that the individual behavior needs to change permanently. The alternative would be a constant switch from strict measures to releases and back, a so-called yo-yo effect. This would do harm in the long term. We had warned of this effect in our post on March 21, 2020.

Our blog posts are providing a guideline through the pandemic. The guideline is taken up well, but the implementation could improve. For the implementation we can provide consultation with all our expertise and experience – on your side.

Stay alert, informed, in a polite distance, and healthy … and most important: Think of the Merkulix-Ahatzl (abbreviation for the protective rules in Germany, more about this may be found in previous posts).

Yours, Sabine and Jörg

SAJO is consulting all around infectious diseases. We are applying our know-how, that we have acquired in more than 20 years. We do what we can to fight this pandemic. We are also providing consulting to colleagues of the medical and scientific faculties.

SAJO – for a healthy world and better future!

A heartfelt thanks to Oliver Hoogvliet for the awesome cartoon. ollihoo (

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