In Brief

UK can avoid lockdowns by ‘outsmarting’ Covid, says top German virologist

Leading expert calls for end to ‘alarmism’ as death rates fall despite spikes in infections

One of Germany’s most senior virologists is claiming that the UK can curb a second spike in coronavirus cases without a nationwide lockdown.

Professor Hendrik Streeck, director of Germany’s Institute of Virology at Bonn University, has called for end to “all this alarmism” over rising infections, adding: “We can outsmart the virus using all our knowledge.”

In other words, his “trenchant advice” to the public and government ministers is to “hold your nerve, and don’t succumb to the pervasive mood of mass hysteria”, The Telegraph says.

“We have to realise that Covid-19 is going to be with us for a long time and we must learn to live with it. We can’t keep shutting down our daily lives and paralysing everything,” Streeck, who supported Germany’s first lockdown, told the newspaper.  

“I neither trivialise the virus, nor do I dramatise it. We must find a proper balance,” he added. “I am convinced that changes in behaviour have had a huge impact on the disease.”

Streeck says that social distancing, better hygiene regimes and face masks mean “people are getting infected with a lower dose” and have “brought down the viral load”. Citing low death rates in countries that have reported recent increases in cases, he argues that “you have to look at what is happening in the medical wards and intensive care beds. That is a much better guide to this pandemic.”

The top virologist’s intervention came as Christian Drosten, the professor who led coronavirus-test research at Berlin’s Charite Hospital, told the German Press Agency that he believes Germany could and would also avoid another nationwide lockdown, “because we already know some things better”.

However, “Drosten believes that some areas of work and personal life could face new restrictions, adding that Germany should not think it will escape a rise in infections like other EU countries”, Yahoo! News reports.

Germany, which has been heralded as a pandemic success story, has reported 276,665 coronavirus cases to date, with 9,400 deaths, according to latest figures.

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