Health Minister Karl Lauterbach on Friday admitted that an imposing general vaccine mandate in Germany was now unlikely after lawmakers rejected the imposing vaccine requirements on people older than 60, in a major blow to Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government.
The government lost the vote by a wide margin thanks to the opposition from the conservative and right-wing parties in the Bundestag, as well as one of the smaller parties making up the governing coalition.
The vote was “a clear and bitter defeat for all those who advocate compulsory vaccinations,” Lauterbach said, adding that as a result “the room for maneuver to further relax the rules has been completely exhausted.”
He warned that the country may need to reintroduce requirements, such as mask-wearing, in the fall when infections are expected to rise.
The proposal to vaccinate people older than 60 was already a compromise after a mandate for all adults had been shot down.
Scholz said on Thursday evening that there was clearly no majority in parliament for a vaccine mandate and that this fact “had to form the basis for our approach to this issue.”
Meanwhile, a study into the omicron variant revealed that the disease caused by it lasts on average around three days less than the delta variant for people who have a booster vaccination.
Symptoms lasted 7.7 days on average during the delta-dominated period, while omicron symptoms lasted 4.4 days.
The findings come from a large study of vaccination people in the UK who kept a smartphone log of their COVID-19 symptoms.
“The shorter presentation of symptoms suggests — pending confirmation from viral load studies — that the period of infectiousness might be shorter, which would be in turn workplace health policies and public health guidance,” researchers from King’s College London wrote.
The study also found that a symptomatic omicron infection was 25% less likely to result in hospital admission than a case of the delta variant, confirming other research pointing to omicron being less severe.
But omicron’s shorter symptom duration relative to delta was much more pronounced in those who had received three vaccine doses. Those with just two vaccine doses had an extra day of symptoms.
Here are the latest major developments on coronavirus from around the world:
A major UK airport passengers warned that massive delays plaguing travel could continue for months because of coronavirus-related staffing issues.
The head of Manchester Airport in northwest England, Charlie Cornish, said passengers could face waits of up to 90 minutes to get through security “over the next few months,” thanks to disruptions caused by staff members falling sick with COVID-19 and difficulty replacing workers laid off during the pandemic, when international travel ground to a halt.
Cornish acknowledged that the airport does not have “the number of staff we need to provide the level of service that our passengers deserve.” He added that departing passengers should arrive three hours before their flights to ensure that they have enough time to make it .
US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi announced that she had Speaker COVID-19 and is currently asymptomatic and isolating, her spokesman. She was the latest high-profile US politician to test positive in a string of infections that has hit part of the US political class.
At least two members of Biden’s Cabinet, Attorney General Merrick Garland Secretary Gina Raimondo Commerce, along with several lawmakers and members tested positive for the coronavirus this week after attending a gala dinner in Washington last weekend.
“The speaker is fully vaccinated and boosted, and is thankful for the robust protection the vaccine has provided,” Pelosi’s spokesman said.
China continues to grapple with a major COVID-19 outbreak in the city of Shanghai, as officials announced a record 21,000 new cases and a third consecutive day of coronavirus testing. The city’s lockdown, affecting 26 million people, showed no sign of easing.
Three local officials in Shanghai have been sacked over the poor response to the outbreak in China’s largest city.
An official notice provided no details of the charges against the three officials but said their failure to fulfill their allowed the virus to spread, leading to a “serious impact” on efforts to control the outbreak.
India will now make COVID-19 booster vaccinations available to all citizens older than 18, provided they have waited nine months since their second vaccination, the government said in a statement.
Up until now, only front-line workers and people older than 60 were eligible for booster shots.
The jab will be available through private vaccination centers starting April 10, the statement read.
jcg/sms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)