Germany’s new government condemns ‘aggressive’ anti-vax movement

In a press conference held after the signing of the new government's coalition agreement in Berlin, incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz slammed 'threatening' protests against Covid restrictions and vaccinations.

German anti-vax protest
An anti-vax protestor holds a sign demanding the "disclosure" of the "damage" caused by vaccination at a protest in Frankfurt, Hesse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

We must react decisively against violent demonstrations,” Scholz said. Referring to a recent protest staged outside the private house of Saxony’s Health Minister, Scholz said these kinds of actions could only be interpreted as a “threat”. 

“As democrats, we reject that decisively,” he added.

His comments were echoed by Green Party co-leader Robert Habeck, who is set to head up the newly formed Ministry of Environment, Energy and Economy from Wednesday. 

“The fact that we need a higher vaccination rate isn’t up for debate,” he said.

It becomes problematic when, out of the multitude of different reasons (for not getting vaccinated), a movement arises – not necessarily against vaccination, but against the state, against a free and open democracy,” he added. 

On Friday evening, 30 protestors with torches and placards arrived at the house of Saxony’s health minister Petra Köpping (SPD) to demonstrate against the current Covid lockdown in the state. 

The action, which had to be broken up by the police, was allegedly supported by a far-right extremist group called the Free Saxons. Politicians around the country have since condemned the gathering as threatening and anti-democratic. 

Demonstrations against current Covid measures have been ramping up in Germany as the incoming government moves to bar unvaccinated people from most areas of public life, including non-essential shops.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid rules to fight fourth wave

The country has also introduced contract restrictions that prevent unvaccinated people from meeting more than two other people at a time. 

Critics of the measures claim that the moves risk sowing more division in an already divided society, but Scholz defended the move on Tuesday, claiming the German population was “not split” but rather “of one mind”. 

A group of anti-vaxxers demonstrate with a sign that reads: “Hands off our children!” in Hannover, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

“We have to do everything in our power to protect the population, and we’ll only succeed if as many people as possible are vaccinated,” said Scholz. 

“We need restrictions, particularly for the people who haven’t got vaccinated, because there’s no doubt whatsoever that it’s the people who aren’t vaccinated who are driving the high infection rates.”

After representatives from the ‘traffic light’ coalition parties – the SPD, Greens and FDP – signed their 177-page coalition agreement on Tuesday, the new government is due to be sworn in on Wednesday.

First on the agenda in parliament will be voting in a range of new Covid measures such as a vaccine mandate for healthcare professionals and additional powers for German states to order restaurant and bar closures during the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Could German states order bar and restaurant closures under new Covid laws?

The new government will also hold a vote on whether the bring in compulsory Covid jabs for the general population.

Asked to share the coalition’s position on the issue, incoming Finance Minister and FDP leader Christian Lindner said the parties had “no fixed position”. Every MP will be able to vote with their conscience and across party lines, he explained. 

As of Tuesday, 69.1 percent of the German population was fully vaccinated, while 17.5 percent had received a booster jab.

The government is aiming to carry out 30 million jabs by Christmas as it seeks to dampen the Covid fourth wave.  

Member comments

  1. I do agree, even though I wouldn’t use such strong words, cause that is usually very off-putting for people. The hypocrisy is real though, and at this point in time I have no idea for what cause they are fighting. To claim that the only way to succeed in fighting covid is by getting as many people as possible vaccinated or to claim that the unvaccinated are to blame for the raising covid cases is just bogus and false. I suggest that people who are interested in facts and what real experts are thinking about this visit the webpage for Brownstone Institute. And before anyone calls me anti-vaxxer, I am indeed vaccinated, and I am also a fan of common sense, logic and the truth.

    1. The Brownstone Institute is a right-libertarian think-tank, which makes them “real experts” in a particular ideology, not public health.

      I think you’re wrong if you think an anarcho-capitalist society wouldn’t punish unvaccinated people. You know, health insurance companies use statistics to evaluate risks, they don’t like to lose money, and would hence quickly make it very difficult for anyone (except the super rich, who can afford it) to keep their insurances while being not vaccinated. The eventual consequences would be worse than not being allowed in bars, in my opinion.

      1. I do believe the Brownstone Institute looks at the facts and considers the good and the bad to help support sensible decision making. Sometimes the preventative actions taken by governments really do cause more harm than Covid itself. But we never see governments pointing all these things out. How can we support these decisions without being aware of all the facts? Take a look at Sweden to see a completely different approach closer to the kind of approach you’d expect from an honest government. They received a lot of criticism to begin with but turns out their decisions were better and are based on taking actions where they do the most good.

        1. I gave it a look and what I saw was contrarian articles, along the lines of “let’s do nothing, and people will do the right thing by themselves”. As always with libertarians, this is supported by facts and reason. In one of their recent articles, the author is unvaccinated and claims that his choice was “data-driven”. Give me a break. You might convince the average person, but I actually like to read scientific papers and statistics.

          What do you mean by “being aware of all the facts”? That’s more or less impossible, and not how science works. We don’t have all the facts, we work with what we have, and in light of new discoveries, we have to adapt. A lot of people don’t seem to like that.

          Until we come up with something else (which I hope we will), or the virus mutates to something more like common cold, having as many people vaccinated as possible is the best way to reduce deaths (especially in the 60+ age group, where it would be awesome to have close to 100% coverage, and boosters taken regularly).

          As for Sweden, they have 6-7x more deaths than similar countries like Norway & Finland. They didn’t do horribly, but I wouldn’t consider them such a great success either.

          1. You surely only gave this a cursory glance, which is unfortunate. That website is very much in line with the Great Barrington Declaration (see ) signed by over 60k scientists and medical professionals who are concerned about the sort of actions that are being taken which could be far worse than Covid itself. Unfortunately I think many people are easily swayed by information provided that doesn’t consider all sides of a discussion. Information provided by Governments and Pharmaceutical companies may well be accurate, but it may also ignore some aspects that would prevent the results the authors wish to deliver. I know you could say the same argument applies to Brownstone, and it does. So it’s a question of who do you believe to be presenting all the facts? I am suspicious of Governments and Pharmaceuticals… I’m less suspicious of Brownstone, and many other sources I consider legitimate.

          2. You might also find this article on Sweden interesting (see ). I’m not taking sides, I’m not anti-vaccination, I’m only presenting what I think is a more balanced approach to providing information which often contradicts the approach of some governments. I don’t think you can focus on just one thing and try to fix it without considering the harm you might be doing in implementing your chosen solution. It may be much worse.

  2. “claim that the unvaccinated are to blame for the raising corvid cases.”
    “because there’s no doubt whatsoever that it’s the people who aren’t vaccinated who are driving the high infection rates.”

    Unless they have discovered new rules regarding virology the claim is inflammatory, (pun not intended).
    So many spouting out about that for which they have insufficient knowledge and, in many cases, influenced by dubious vested interests.

  3. Who knew that The Local comment section would come to life, with misinformation. The majority of infected people in Germany are in fact unvaccinated and can see the data at the RKI website. Additionally, the great majority of transmission events involve an unvaccinated person (see – none of this is meant to stigmatize or shame the unvaccinated, by the way – it’s just the way it is 🤷‍♂️

    1. Not peer reviewed and some pretty heavy assumptions to estimate this. Might be accurate, might not be… but it’s hardly the way it is. Vaccines won’t prevent you getting it, but they may prevent you getting tested! Just saying…

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Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

It’s back again: amid sinking temperatures, the incidence of Covid-19 has been slowly rising in Germany. But is this enough to merit worrying about the virus?

Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

More people donning face masks in supermarkets, friends cancelling plans last minute due to getting sick with Covid-19. We might have seen some of those familiar reminders recently that the coronavirus is still around, but could there really be a resurgence of the virus like we experienced during the pandemic years?

According to virologists, the answer seems to be ‘maybe’: since July, the number of people newly infected with Covid-19 has been slowly rising from a very low level.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), nine people per 100,000 inhabitants became newly infected in Germany last week. A year ago, there were only around 270 reported cases.

Various Corona variants are currently on the loose in the country. According to the RKI,  the EG.5 (also called Eris) and XBB.1.16 lines were each detected in the week ending September 3rd with a share of just under 23 percent. 

The highly mutated variant BA.2.86 (Pirola), which is currently under observation by the World Health Organisation (WHO), also arrived in the country this week, according to RKI. 

High number of unreported case

The RKI epidemiologists also warned about a high number of unreported cases since hardly any testing is done. They pointed out that almost half of all registered sewage treatment plants report an increasing viral load in wastewater tests.

The number of hospital admissions has also increased slightly, but are still a far cry from the occupation rate amid the pandemic. Last week it was two per 100,000 inhabitants. In the intensive care units, only 1.2 percent of all beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients.

Still, a good three-quarters (76.4 percent) of people in Germany have been vaccinated at least twice and thus have basic immunity, reported RKI. 

Since Monday, doctors’ offices have been vaccinating with the adapted vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer, available to anyone over 12 years old, with a vaccine for small children set to be released the following week and one for those between 5 and 11 to come out October 2nd.

But Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has so far only recommended that people over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions get vaccinated.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Who should get a Covid jab this autumn in Germany?

“The pandemic is over, the virus remains,” he said. “We cannot predict the course of coming waves of corona, but it is clear that older people and people with pre-existing conditions remain at higher risk of becoming severely ill from Covid-19”

The RKI also recommended that people with a cold voluntarily wear a mask. Anyone exhibiting cough, cold, sore throat or other symptoms of a respiratory illness should voluntarily stay at home for three to five days and take regular corona self-tests. 

However, further measures such as contact restrictions are not necessary, he said.

One of many diseases

As of this autumn, Covid-19 could be one of many respiratory diseases. As with influenza, there are no longer absolute infection figures for coronavirus.

Saarbrücken pharmacist Thorsten Lehr told German broadcaster ZDF that self-protection through vaccinations, wearing a mask and getting tested when symptoms appear are prerequisites for surviving the Covid autumn well. 

Only a new, more aggressive mutation could completely turn the game around, he added.

On April 7th of this year, Germany removed the last of its over two-year long coronavirus restrictions, including mask-wearing in some public places.

READ ALSO: German doctors recommend Covid-19 self-tests amid new variant