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News| Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Leopoldina advises politics and society on the coronavirus pandemic

Leopoldina advises politics and society on the coronavirus pandemic

Picture: snedorez / Adobe Stock

In 2020 and 2021, the Leopoldina published ten Ad-hoc-statements and other publications on the coronavirus pandemic. These deal with the medical, psychological, social, ethical, legal, educational, economic and health and education policy aspects of the pandemic. In total, more than 90 scientists from the relevant disciplines were involved in the publications. On this page you will find all Ad-hoc-statements and other publications in chronological order.

27 November 2021 — "Coronavirus-Pandemie: Klare und konsequente Maßnahmen - sofort!" (10th Ad-hoc-statement)

The 10th Ad-hoc-statement on the Coronavirus pandemic (currently only available in German) may be downloaded here.

10 November 2021 — "Antivirals against SARS-CoV-2: current situation and approaches to improved preparation for future pandemics" (9th Ad-hoc-statement)

The 9th Ad-hoc-statement on the Coronavirus pandemic may be downloaded here.

21 July 2021 — "Economic Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic – Analysis and Possible Courses of Action" (Statement)

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about new medium- and long-term challenges in Germany that will need to be addressed by economic and social policy. It has also exposed existing problems where action is needed now more than ever. In the statement “Economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic – Analysis and possible courses of action”, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina analyses the current economic and social policy situation in Germany and suggests what measures could be taken to meet the challenges posed by the structural change facing the country. The scientists recommend courses of action in four areas: structural change and prerequisites for sustainable economic growth; inequality and distribution; capacity of government organisations at national and international level; and sustainability of public finances.

The statement discusses new challenges, but also those that pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic and have been exacerbated by it. Based on an analysis of the situation as it stands, the statement points out possible courses of action for policy-makers in four areas. Despite precise empirical data currently not being available in all the areas to support the development of economic policy options, it is possible to work out potential for improvement in government action today. It is also possible to devise steps to support an economic recovery process in line with environmental and social sustainability considerations. “Eventually, the pandemic may generate opportunities for the modernisation of public administrations,” says Prof. Regina T. Riphahn Ph.D., speaker of the working group and Vice President of the Leopoldina.

The first aspect of economic policy addressed in the statement are ways to overcome the medium- and long-term impact of the pandemic on the economy. This can be achieved through framework conditions and targeted measures to expedite economic structural change and strengthen the economy’s future growth potential. “Digitalisation and expedited structural change should be viewed as essential factors in improving productivity levels throughout the economy rather than as some kind of threat to be feared,” explains Prof. Dr. Christoph M. Schmidt, speaker of the working group, President of RWI ‒ Leibniz Institute for Economic Research (Essen/Germany), and Member of the Leopoldina.

The second aspect addressed by the working group are measures to counteract the complex medium- and long-term consequences of the pandemic on wealth distribution and the persistence of social inequality. These proposals relate to education and professional development, the promotion of gender equality and the structure of the social welfare system. In particular, lost learning due to the pandemic threatens to have a long-term impact. The working group therefore proposes that in the event of future school closures, mandatory online lessons should be provided every day and additional support given to children and adolescents from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.

The third chapter of the statement is dedicated to potential for improvement in connection with government capacity. The working group suggests setting up an independent non-political committee once the worst of the crisis has passed. This committee would be charged with identifying the causes of possible shortcomings in government response to the crisis – at all federal levels all the way through to international level – and putting forward reform recommendations. For instance, it would examine to what extent faster data acquisition, administrative improvements, particularly the modernisation of public health services, and mandatory learning assessments in the education sector would result in better crisis outcomes.

Finally, the working group proposes a fourth aspect of economic policy to be addressed after the pandemic – namely how to guarantee and strengthen the sustainability of public finances at national and European level, so that in the event of another major crisis, the necessary support can again be provided to avoid the worst effects. The working group recommends considering reforms to national and European debt regulations and public investment activity. In both cases, these economic policy decisions should be subject to strict monitoring and critical evaluation. Suitable measures must also be introduced to ensure local authorities are in a position to take action.

The detailed third ad-hoc-statement “Economic Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic – Analysis and Possible Courses of Action” may be downloaded here.

21 June 2021 — "Children and adolescents in the COVID-19 pandemic: Psychosocial and educational challenges and opportunities" (8th Ad-hoc-statement)

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a wide range of consequences for children and adolescents when it comes to education, social interaction, socioemotional development, physical activity and psychological wellbeing. Many of them will be able to overcome these consequences. However, others will continue to feel the effects of the deficits in the medium and probably long term. With a view to counteracting this impact, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has published the ad hoc statement “Children and adolescents in the COVID-19 pandemic: Psychosocial and educational challenges and opportunities”, now available in English, and recommends the development and expansion of support and educational structures. These should address current inequalities in education and development in a sustainable manner, thus going beyond the mitigation of disadvantages caused by the pandemic to improve the situation with reference to the pre-pandemic status quo.

Inequalities and developmental risks existed before the pandemic, most specifically in the fields of education, social interaction, socioemotional development and physical activity. Mental disorders were the leading cause of disease burden among children and adolescents. The ad hoc statement outlines results from studies which also take into consideration the situation prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and consequently shed light on the burdens that have occurred as a result. The fluid situation only permits current scientific knowledge to provide a snapshot of the effects for children and adolescents and short observation periods further limit the validity. Nonetheless, the findings indicate where the need for short, medium and long-term action lies.

Based on scientific findings, compiled prior to and during the pandemic, experts recommend that educational institutions be kept open and in-person teaching is enabled with appropriate protective measures in place (such as mask-wearing, hygiene measures, regular testing), as this has proven to be the most effective form of learning for virtually all preschool-age and school-age children. “Due to the rapidly-spreading Delta variant, it is absolutely essential that protective measures are upheld and the guidelines concerning social distancing, hygiene, mask-wearing and ventilation continue to be adhered to, and that regular testing in schools is carried out. Medical masks should be worn in indoor environments at all times where it is not possible to maintain the necessary distance,” states Prof. (ETHZ) Dr. Gerald Haug, President of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Simultaneously, digital infrastructure of the education sector should be accelerated and consolidated.

In the context of support and educational opportunities, the statement recommends the provision of long-term language support to help children learn the German language by using standardised early language assessment methods and by expanding the role of integrated language learning support in childcare settings. Primary school timetables should be adjusted so that priority is placed on helping pupils to make up for lost ground in the core subjects of German and maths, and provide additional support for lower-performing pupils at both primary and secondary level. Furthermore, additional information regarding support measures should be provided.

To improve on the previous promotion of health and motor development, experts recommend the development of an infrastructure which encourages physical activity among children and adolescents, ideally including daily exercise in preschools and schools and comprehensive programmes to promote a healthy lifestyle in regard to nutrition, sleep and physical activity. Awareness of psychological problems in children and adolescents should be raised among educational staff in preschools and teaching staff in schools by providing training and expanding existing school social work infrastructure. Outside of the school environment, evidence-based measures in child and youth welfare services as well as in evidence-based treatments for mental disorders among children and adolescents should be expanded further. Experts also recommend that therapy waiting times are reduced.

The detailed ad-hoc-statement “Children and adolescents in the COVID-19 pandemic: Psychosocial and educational challenges and opportunities” may be downloaded here.

8 December 2020 — "Coronavirus pandemic: Use the end of year holidays to impose a strict lockdown" (7th Ad-hoc-statement)

The current situation is highly precarious and threatens to deteriorate further. Despite the partial lockdown, which was introduced at the start of November, infection numbers are still far too high. Several hundred people are dying every day. Hospitals, and in particular medical staff, are already at the limit of their capacities, and the public health departments are overburdened. To regain control of the infection rate, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina recommends a two-step approach in its ad hoc statement, “Coronavirus pandemic: Use the end of year holidays to impose a strict lockdown”. The circumstances – holiday break for educational institutions and reduced operations for many businesses and public authorities – offer the opportunity to make significant progress in containing the pandemic.

Experience from many other countries (e.g. Ireland) during the pandemic shows that swiftly implemented, strict measures over a short period of time are a great help in reducing infection numbers. The experts point out that stricter measures also make sense from an economic perspective. Admittedly, in the short term, a stricter lockdown will lead to reduced value creation. However, it will also shorten the time until new infections have reached a sufficiently low level as to enable the relaxation of restrictions.

Contacts in both the professional and private spheres would have to be reduced to the absolute minimum as early as 14 December 2020. Home office would have to be the general rule wherever possible. Pupils should not be required to attend school in person from 14 December until the start of the Christmas break. Group activities in sports and culture would have to be suspended. Whenever possible, digital services should replace face-to-face contact.

From 24 December 2020 until 10 January 2021 at the earliest, public life throughout Germany should be restricted as much as possible. In other words, a stricter lockdown should be put in place. To this end, in addition to the measures proposed from 14 December, all shops other than those providing essential services should be closed and the Christmas break for educational institutions extended. The scientists also make recommendations for behavior during the holidays in this statement. Among other things, travel for tourism purposes should be prohibited throughout this period. Gatherings should only take place among a very small, clearly defined and unchanging circle of family members or friends.

When teaching resumes in schools after the end of year holidays, all pupils throughout Germany should be required to wear a mask covering mouth and nose in class, regardless of age. In addition, national regulations for remote learning from secondary level upwards should also be developed and implemented, which would take effect above a certain incidence rate.

A lasting political consensus is also needed on a clear, multi-level, and nationally standardized system of rules that applies once a certain number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants is exceeded. A standardized and comprehensible approach will provide transparency to citizens and businesses and enable them to plan accordingly.

The detailed ad-hoc-statement “Coronavirus pandemic: Use the end of year holidays to impose a strict lockdown” may be downloaded here.

23 September 2020 — "Coronavirus pandemic: Establishing effective rules for autumn and winter" (6th Ad-hoc-statement)

Since the end of July, the number of new infections with the coronavirus has been on the rise again in Germany. Because of falling temperatures and group activities being relocated indoors, the pandemic's development is at risk of becoming difficult to control again. In its ad-hoc-statement “Coronavirus pandemic: Establishing effective rules for autumn and winter” the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina points out that to counter this threat in time and maintain public life in the coming months, protective measures must be taken now.

The Leopoldina appeals to all responsible parties at the federal and state levels to quickly agree on national, effective, and standardized rules for preventive measures and to ensure that these measures are implemented and complied with more consistently than has been the case to date.

The researchers indicate that the increase in SARS-CoV-2 infections in other European countries such as France, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, or in Israel is more evident than in Germany. Even optimistic predictions suggest that a vaccine against the coronavirus will not be available in sufficient quantities before spring 2021. So far, the efficacy of drug therapies has also been limited. With the onset of the cold and flu season, it will be increasingly challenging to distinguish diseases with similar symptoms from COVID-19.

Against this backdrop, to keep the number of infections at a low level in the coming months, the Leopoldina recommends in its sixth ad-hoc statement on the coronavirus pandemic:

1. Consistent compliance with protective measures: The researchers emphasize that well-known protective measures (physical distance, hygiene, wearing of a mask) and regular air exchange in enclosed spaces remain the most important and effective means of keeping the pandemic under control. Concerning a possible deterioration of the situation in autumn and winter, uniform rules and escalation levels for protective measures should be defined nationally and take effect in line with regional infection rates. These would need to be regularly reassessed and adjusted as required.

2. Rapid, targeted testing, reduced quarantine and isolation periods: To control the infection rate, the statement recommends, among other things, targeted testing according to the respective risk of infection and the availability of test procedures independent of laboratories to differentiate more quickly between a SARS-CoV-2 infection and symptom-related diseases such as influenza. To reduce the negative impact on individuals, family members, the economy, and society, the isolation period following the onset of symptoms could be reduced to around one week in case of a positive test result. Laboratory tests can be used to estimate the current infectiousness. Similarly, the quarantine period for persons who have been exposed to a high risk of infection (Category I contacts, for example, following contact with a person proven to be infected or a stay in a high-risk area) could, according to recent assessments, be reduced from 14 to 10 days.

3. Facilitating responsible behavior: Over the coming months, the pandemic's successful containment will depend on whether the well-known protective measures can be implemented even more consistently than before, according to the experts. To facilitate this, citizens need access to barrier-free knowledge tailored to specific target groups, motivation, the possibility to act accordingly, and clear rules. Equally important and motivating is transparent communication of the basis, procedures, and goals of political decisions.

4. Alleviating social and psychological effects: The statement indicates that mental stress has increased during the pandemic, with potentially long-term consequences for the health of many people. Therefore, support structures are more important than ever, particularly a significantly increased selection of psychotherapeutic and psychiatric treatment and counseling services for prevention and therapy.

With this statement, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina publishes the sixth ad-hoc-statement on the coronavirus pandemic in Germany. It is based on the state of research of the participating scientific disciplines. Making decisions is the task of democratically legitimized politics and responsible institutions. The first five published ad-hoc statements focused on health policy, psychological, social, legal, educational, pedagogical, and economic measures in dealing with the pandemic. 

The detailed sixth ad-hoc-statement “Coronavirus pandemic: Establishing effective rules for autumn and winter” may be downloaded here.

5 August 2020 — "The Coronavirus Pandemic: Towards a Crisis-Resistant Education System" (5th Ad-hoc-statement)

The coronavirus pandemic and all measures taken to curb the spreading of the infection have led to a situation where many childcare facilities and schools were temporarily unable to fulfill their educational mandate. Others were only able to comply with this mandate to a very limited extent. The ad-hoc-statement “The Coronavirus Pandemic: Towards a Crisis-Resistant Education System” is a translation of the original statement published in German that was addressed to the responsible stakeholders in the national education system, i.e. state ministries, state institutes, education providers as well as day-care centers and schools.

A reliable technological and organizational infrastructure, which could compensate for a complete shutdown of educational institutions, is not yet available in Germany. Children and young people, their families and educational professionals are therefore particularly affected by the current crisis. In the ad-hoc statement “The Coronavirus Pandemic: Towards a Crisis-Resistant Education System”, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina indicates suitable measures, outlining how the existing education system can become more resilient and react more flexibly under crisis conditions.

According to the statement, the primary goal is to facilitate continuous attendance at educational institutions. However, as long as there is neither a vaccine nor a widely available therapy, the risk of infection in educational institutions must be minimized. Depending on the local infection situation, partial closures are to be expected in the coming months. For this reason, the experts also recommend investments in a sustainable digital system of remote learning as a complementary measure to classroom teaching.

The authors of the ad-hoc statement, representing educational studies, educational research, didactics, psychology, economics, sociology, theology, virology, and medicine specify measures in seven fields of action:

  •  Maintaining access to educational institutions: In addition to generally recommended infection control measures and systematic coronavirus testing, the specific needs of high-risk groups among children, pedagogical staff and relatives of both groups should be taken into account. In order to avoid the total closure of educational institutions, small, closed contact groups (e.g. school classes) should be established wherever this is possible. These groups should have as little contact between each other as possible. The aim is to ensure that the children and young people in an epidemiological group have personal contact with each other and with the educational staff for as long as possible.
  • Developing concepts for integrating classroom and remote learning: Making learning and education possible is the central competence of educational professionals, even in times of remote learning. Parents can only support here. The Federal Government and the states should work out a preferably cross-state solution for digital learning platforms that have been verified as compliant with data protection laws. In addition, the statement recommends cross-state framework regulations and standards, for example for examinations in phases of remote learning. The platforms should enable teachers to share quality-assured materials and content, and to interact with children, young people and their parents in phases of remote learning.
  • Providing a suitable, secure, and data protection-compliant digital infrastructure: The first financial requirements were created by the “Digital Pact for Schools” initiative ("DigitalPakt Schule"). The technical equipment, support, maintenance, repair, and development of educational media should be supported by a cross-state support committee or board comprising experts from educational administration, educational practice and research, as well as information and knowledge management.
  • Supporting educators in the professional use of digital media: Support is needed concerning digital infrastructure and technical equipment, the provision of digital teaching aids and materials, as well as continuing education programs.
  • Expanding cooperation and communication with parents and families: Among other things, the experts recommend offering periodic (video) consultation hours, coaching materials and services for parents, as well as digital learning materials with age-appropriate stimulation and support.
  • Additional support for children and young people with learning difficulties and lower achievement levels: The focus on maths and language skills, as well as basic competencies that lay the groundwork for further learning is recommended as a priority.
  • Strengthening fundamental knowledge and improving information: Research and evaluation help to scientifically evaluate both the effects of day-care center and school closures as well as the effectiveness of newly introduced teaching and learning methods. They also help to adapt the methods to current needs.

The authors of the statement point out that additional resources are needed to implement the recommended measures. The extensive efforts to cope with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic have so far included comparatively modest investments in education and the future opportunities of the young generation.

With this statement, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina publishes the fifth ad-hoc statement on the coronavirus pandemic in Germany. It is based on the state of research of the participating scientific disciplines. Making decisions in the field of education whilst taking into account the perspectives of the stakeholders is the task of democratically legitimized politics and the responsible institutions.

The detailed fifth ad-hoc statement “The Coronavirus Pandemic: Towards a Crisis-Resistant Education System” may be downloaded here.

27 May 2020 – "Coronavirus Pandemic: Medical Care and Patient-Oriented Research in an Adaptive Healthcare System" (4th Ad-hoc-statement)

The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has issued a fourth ad-hoc-statement on the coronavirus pandemic. It is dedicated to the topic: "Medical Care and Patient-Oriented Research in an Adaptive Healthcare System". The paper focuses on short- and medium-term aspects of medical and care services under the conditions of a sustained pandemic and identifies long-term measures that lead to a more resilient and adaptive healthcare system.

The authors recommend a needs-based system focusing on patient well-being and quality assurance, rather than a primarily profit-oriented approach. It should appreciate all employees and integrate innovations as well as digital solutions. The aim is an adaptive healthcare system where the public health service and the ambulatory and stationary sectors work together well, and research results are promptly integrated into clinical practice.

In the past weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has posed extraordinary challenges to the German healthcare system. According to the ad-hoc-statement, the confrontation with a new viral disease has shown the great importance of a publicly funded healthcare system and of an interconnected and research-based healthcare. Due to precautionary measures against infection with the largely unknown SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as the rearrangement of the system to be able to handle a potentially large number of severely ill COVID-19 patients, ambulatory and stationary care for patients with other illnesses has, however, faded into the background. Even important preventive measures and research activities had to be interrupted. Now, needs-based preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic measures for all patients need to be resumed promptly and, whenever possible, to their full extent.

The authors consider the following short- and medium-term framework conditions necessary to ensure healthcare for all patients in times of an ongoing pandemic threat:

  • provision of sufficient stationary, ambulatory, and post-stationary capacities and securing personnel, rooms and technical reserves for the treatment of COVID-19 patients when required
  • establishment of a regional and in-hospital early warning system for SARS-CoV-2 infections
  • implementation of science-based targeted testing strategies
  • strengthening public confidence in a safe and patient-oriented medical treatment
  • high-quality care and health services for all patients by promptly integrating new research developments

It is the responsibility of the state to ensure healthcare in times of crisis and a quality-assured and science-based medical treatment for the population. The working group of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina recommends taking the following general aspects into account for the long-term development of the healthcare system:

  • ensuring high-quality, science-based and ethically responsible care for all patients
  • determining defined and differentiated areas of responsibility for each healthcare provider in a region according to the level of care expertise with a special function for university medicine
  • providing adequate numbers of qualified medical and care staff
  • guaranteeing comprehensive digitisation and structured cross-sectoral connectivity of all hospitals and of ambulatory care
  • ensuring the realisation of healthcare tasks, for example by supplementing the current diagnosis related groups (DRG) reimbursement with structural components while avoiding false incentives
  • social appreciation, appropriate remuneration, attractive and needs-based training as well as favourable working conditions for medical and non-medical personnel

With this statement, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina publishes the fourth ad-hoc-statement on the coronavirus pandemic in Germany. The first three statements focused on acute healthcare policy measures in dealing with the pandemic, and on psychological, social, legal, educational, and economic measures that may contribute to a gradual return to societal normality.

The detailed fourth ad-hoc-statement “Coronavirus Pandemic: Medical Care and Patient-Oriented Research in an Adaptive Healthcare System” may be downloaded here.

13 April 2020 – "Coronavirus Pandemic – Sustainable Ways to Overcome the Crisis" (3rd Ad-hoc-statement)

The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has published a third ad-hoc-statement on the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper entitled “Coronavirus Pandemic – Sustainable Ways to Overcome the Crisis” deals with the psychological, social, legal, educational, and economic aspects of the pandemic and describes strategies that may contribute to a gradual return to normality. The authors of the statement emphasise that, in light of the psychological, social, economic, civil society, and political problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic, curbing its spread must be given the highest priority. Although the pandemic will continue to define economic and societal life for months to come, criteria and policies have to be developed that go beyond the acute limitation of fundamental rights such as the freedom of movement to ensure a gradual return to normality. According to the statement, such a gradual relaxation of regulations requires consistently low infection rates to prevent the healthcare system from being overloaded, increasing identification of infected persons, and disciplined compliance with protective measures (hygiene, the wearing of mouth and nose protection, physical distancing).

The paper addresses questions of data- and model-based decision support and perspectives concerning the evaluation of legal rights. It also proposes recommendations for buffering psychological and social impacts. Besides, measures for the economic and financial sector, as well as the area of education, are illustrated. The statement identifies the following principles as a general framework: the protection of every individual human being and the facilitation of a dignified life, as well as the gradual restoration of the citizens' social, economic, political, and cultural capacity for action. The concepts of sustainability and resilience should guide all measures.

The third statement supplements the two previous ad-hoc-statements on health policy issues in dealing with the pandemic issued on April 3 and March 21. These recommendations continue to apply. In particular, the current focus on caring for COVID-19 patients must not lead to a shortfall in the care of others. Sufficient capacities in intensive care units and stocks of protective equipment should be held in reserve for new outbreaks of the pandemic. The healthcare system should be analysed and adjusted accordingly. Furthermore, every effort has to be made to expedite the research into effective medications and the development of quickly and widely available vaccines. The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina will closely monitor and support this process.

The detailed third ad-hoc-statement “Coronavirus Pandemic – Sustainable Ways to Overcome the Crisis” may be downloaded here.

3 April 2020 – "Coronavirus Pandemic – Measures Relevant to Health" (2nd Ad-hoc-statement)

The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has published a second ad-hoc-statement entitled “Coronavirus Pandemic – Measures Relevant to Health”. The paper focuses on measures relevant to health, which can contribute to a gradual normalisation of public life. Three measures are particularly important: (1) general use of mouth and nose protection, (2) short-term use of mobile phone data and (3) increase in testing capacities.

This statement complements the first ad-hoc-statement “Coronavirus Pandemic in Germany: Challenges and Options for Intervention” of the interdisciplinary working group dated March 21, 2020, in which the participating scientists described measures to contain the pandemic, protect vulnerable population groups, and to increase the capacity of the public healthcare system and the public supply of critical goods and services. These recommendations remain valid and are herewith supplemented in light of recent developments.

At present, measures relevant to health are particularly important. In addition, immediate and long-term social and economic consequences must be taken into account for future decisions. The Leopoldina is currently working on further statements with recommendations for a sustainable “restart” of public life and the economy.

The detailed second ad-hoc-statement “Coronavirus Pandemic – Measures Relevant to Health” may be downloaded here.

27 March 2020 – German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina advises on coronavirus pandemic

The worldwide spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and its associated respiratory disease COVID-19 proceeds at a highly dynamic pace. The Leopoldina has published a first ad-hoc-statement on possible health policy options to counter the further spread of the virus. The associated working group will support and accompany the readjustment and implementation of any measures with additional publications. An additional working group has been established to address the legal, economic, social and psychological aspects of the pandemic.

21 March 2020 – "Coronavirus Pandemic in Germany: Challenges and Options for Intervention" (1st Ad-hoc-statement)

An interdisciplinary working group of the Leopoldina has been working on medical perspectives of the pandemic. The resulting ad-hoc-statement “Coronavirus Pandemic in Germany: Challenges and Options for Intervention” discusses potential health policy options to counter the further spread of coronavirus in Germany.

Measures taken by the German Federal Government and the German Federal States (Länder) to curb the ongoing coronavirus pandemic are urgently required at present and correspond to the  threat  posed by  the  pandemic.  They  consist  of  three  elements:  (1)  containment  of  the  epidemic, (2) protection of vulnerable population groups, and (3) capacity increase in the public healthcare system and  in  the  public  supply  of critical  goods  and  services. There  is  scientific  evidence for the effectiveness and necessity of selected measures, while others are proposed on  the  basis  of  projections  and  political  considerations.  Top  priority  must  be  given  to  the  development of drugs and vaccines. With this, medical ethics must be considered.

From a  scientific  point  of  view,  a  Germany-wide  temporary  shutdown  (of approx. 3  weeks)  with  consistent physical distancing seems advisable at this time. Necessary and health-preserving activities must remain possible. All efforts in the next weeks and months should be directed towards making pharmaceutical interventions and protective measures available for the public, and towards assuring testing capacities for cases suspected of infection and for those persons entering the country. During the  shutdown  period,  preparations  must  be  made  for  the  controlled  and  selective  restart  of  publicand economic life.

By means of a temporary “shutdown”, the working group discussed a stringent nationwide curfew until at least after the Easter holidays. At that point, the situation would have to be re-evaluated. This would not imply a work prohibition, a ban on purchasing food or even a ban on going for walks with the family. The goal is to make consistent use of home office, if possible. A disciplined spatial distance of 2 meters between people is also crucial, especially if they do not live in the same household.

The detailed ad-hoc-statement “Coronavirus Pandemic in Germany: Challenges and Options for Intervention”  may be downloaded here.

Lists of Experts

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Lists of Experts



Elmar König

Head of Department Science – Policy – Society, Head of Berlin Office

Phone 030 203 8997 - 865
E-Mail elmar.koenig (at)leopoldina.org