Virologist Christian Drosten told a German news magazine that the country could avoid a second wave of COVID-19, and along with it, potentially another nationwide lockdown.
The researcher from Berlin’s prestigious Charite hospital said an increased knowledge of the behavior and properties of the SARS-CoV-2 virus could prove decisive.
“Now we know the virus better, we know more about how it spreads,” Drosten told Der Spiegel.
“Perhaps… we can avoid a second shutdown,” he said, adding that it was now a “theoretical possibility” that citizens will “get through without a second wave.”
Christian Drosten is Director of the Institute of Virology at the Berlin Charité university hospital
Another of Germany’s leading virologists, Hendrik Streeck from the University of Bonn, has also said there may well be local outbreaks from time to time, like the ones in Leer and Frankfurt, but not a second wave.
Streeck told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND): “I don’t think we’ll be seeing a second wave, that literally floods and overwhelms us.”
However, the predictions contrast with those of two other senior German public health experts, who last week warned of a second wave of coronavirus cases, which they said could be brought back to Germany from abroad by holidaymakers.
Quarantine time cut?
Meanwhile, Drosten said it might be possible to reduce the quarantine period for those infected from 14 days to about seven.
“The incubation period and the time in which you are contagious are all much shorter than initially thought,” Drosten said, adding that Germany was in a good position when it came to dealing with the virus.
“We stopped a pandemic wave with comparatively mild measures, and we did it totally efficiently.”
Drosten credited much of Germany’s success to tracking and tracing – in particular a diagnostic tool developed by his team at Charite.
Row with popular newspaper
The high-profile Drosten has become something of a hate figure for conspiracy theorists and the anti-lockdown movement.
He even reported receiving a threatening package that contained a capsule of liquid and a note saying “Drink this — then you will be immune.”
He also became embroiled in a bitter public row with the mass-circulation daily newspaper Bild, which cast doubt on his scientific research.
Drosten’s team at Berlin’s reputable Charite hospital claimed that children can spread COVID-19 as easily as adults, an important issue when it comes to the reopening of schools.
Bild gave Drosten just one hour to respond to a list of critical comments on the study from other researchers, provoking him to post an angry response on Twitter.
“I have better things to do,” he said. The scientist even posted a screenshot of the email, including the journalist’s phone number.