Germany has come through the Corona crisis well. So far. The health system has proven to be resilient, the number of infected people is among the lowest in the world, as is the number of people who died of corona. Germany is also one of the countries that are leaders in vaccine research. That is why the London think tank Deep Knowledge Group has ranked Germany as the safest and most stable country in Europe. Worldwide, only Israel did better. The federal government’s crisis management has taken effect.
According to an investigation by the University of Göttingen and the Max Planck Institute, there were three main measures that Germany owed to contain the crisis: the cancellation of major events, the closing of business and schools, and the restrictions on contacts. The influence of wearing a mask is still being researched. Is everything all right then? No, not at all.
The crisis has clearly shown that crisis management in Germany, the processes and coordination between the federal and state governments and individual authorities are by no means suitable for a crisis. And above all: Germany is a digital developing country – of all things, when it comes to administrative administrative and coordination processes.
Instead of real-time numbers of infected people, the Robert Koch Institute had to use 14-day-old case numbers, some of which still had to be reported by phone. Electronic reporting? Nothing. An automatic digital recording of the free intensive care beds? Submit test results from the laboratory digitally? Video consultation hours for patients and digital prescriptions? A pandemic app from the start? Nothing.
Reporting via fax
The electronic reporting system for epidemics (DEMIS) has been planned since 2013: Since June 2020, seven years later, it has been taking shape. The approximately 170 laboratories and 400 health offices in Germany are to be gradually connected to DEMIS by 2022. Speed saves lives in an emergency. Germany previously believed that it could do without it. With a possible second corona wave, however, this could be (life-) dangerous. That is why the accredited laboratories in medicine (ALM) have now requested in June to finally be able to submit their laboratory tests for COVID-19 digitally to the RKI. So far, the reporting system was only via fax.
Health Minister Jens Spahn said in April that we will all have to forgive ourselves a lot at the end of the crisis. That may be true – but it cannot be a crisis management concept for the future. Germany was also very lucky in the crisis. Now is the time to critically analyze the past four months and to learn lessons for the future so that the country becomes more crisis-proof and resilient. A second wave cannot be ruled out, nor can another pandemic.