VCI position in a nutshell
The chemical-pharmaceutical industry contributes directly to the fight against the pandemic with the development of vaccines in record time and with drugs, disinfectants, hygiene articles, materials for protective clothing and other products. The industry is also proving that effective hygiene concepts for business premises, home office work and consistent digitalisation can ensure safe operating despite the pandemic.
In view of falling infection figures, a certain "lockdown fatigue" among the population and a duration of the lockdown that is threatening the existence of many companies, have fuelled the debate about relaxation measures. At the same time, there is a threat of another wave of infection due to highly contagious mutations. Moreover, comprehensive vaccination protection will probably not be possible until late summer at the earliest. The pharmaceutical industry is doing its utmost to respond to the rapid development by means of adjustments. Therefore, politicians should find a strategy for the coming months that strikes a reasonable balance between health, civil rights and economic stability.
Strategy for a safe end of the lockdown
The chemical industry has always supported the political decisions taken so far. However, when the infection situation is under control again, the lockdown should be ended. This must be done gradually and in a way that is comprehensible to the general public and economic players. The opening of retail shops, restaurants or events as well as schools and day-care facilities for children should be linked to conditions. A nationwide phase-out of the lockdown should be pursued. Until then, the companies particularly affected must be supported effectively and pragmatically, in order to protect jobs and prevent insolvencies. Furthermore, the instruments for containing the pandemic must be strengthened in such a manner that the thresholds for easing lockdown measures can be as high as possible without risking a new wave of infection.
Keep infection at bay
So that an exponential increase can be prevented, infections must be comprehensively diagnosed, contacts need to be traced quickly and completely, and infected persons should be isolated consistently. There is still considerable need for action in these respects. The second pillar of efficient infection control is formed by uniform nationwide requirements such as hygiene rules, the obligation to wear masks, or the obligation to test and quarantine travellers. These requirements should not be relaxed. In this approach, the incidence can be kept low permanently and without any major damage to the economy.
Thanks to the successes of medicine and the pharma-ceutical industry, an end to the pandemic seems to be in sight soon. Once the population is protected by vaccination and when effective Covid-19 therapies are available, life can return to normal at long last. Politicians and public authorities should enable the local vaccination centres with optimal structures and the best possible equipment to vaccinate the available doses as quickly as possible and support progress in the develop-ment of therapies.
THE VCI IS CALLING FOR THE FOLLOWING
- End the lockdown safely
Current short-term measures must be replaced by a clear-cut plan to end the lockdown. At the same time, the right conditions must be created so that this can be done also with higher incidence rates.
- Fight the pandemic successfully and define minimum standards for infection protection
Testing capacities must be expanded. Well-equipped health authorities should ensure rapid and complete contact tracing as well as consistent quarantine of infected persons. Even after the end of the lockdown, hygiene rules, mandatory masks and testing of travellers, upper limits on gatherings and home office work remain necessary to slow down the spread of the virus. These should not be relaxed irrespective of the incidence of infection, and they should apply nationwide.
- Speed up vaccination and support the development of therapies
The government should create incentives for expanding vaccine research and production. The necessary logistics must keep pace with this. Research funding for therapies should be geared up.
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