Spahn for processing all perspectives

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Berlin – Former Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn is in favor of the Bundestag reviewing corona policy, but this must be broad. “This cannot be rose-colored glasses for the federal government of the time, nor a popular court for corona deniers,” said the CDU politician.

At the end of the pandemic, 70 to 80 percent of Germans would have supported corona policy. “That’s why all perspectives have to be reflected there.” Working on things to learn and better prepare for a pandemic or other crisis definitely makes sense.

“My impression is that it would also be good for society,” said Spahn, who was minister at the height of the coronavirus crisis in 2020 and until the end of 2021. Regarding the question of the framework within which the process of resolving the situation could be organized, said: “We are a representative democracy. What needs to be discussed belongs to the Bundestag.” Therefore, in his opinion, a study commission would be a good solution.

The FDP and the Union, among others, spoke out in favor of such a committee with representatives and experts. SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich suggested a citizens’ assembly with randomly selected participants and then a commission with states and municipalities.

There are also calls from the Greens for a reassessment. Whether and how this should be addressed during this election period remains unclear at this time. The focus for a review is on mask protection rules, testing and vaccination or closing schools and restaurants.

Spahn said that, of course, it was also about talking about responsibility. “I think this is completely legitimate. I took responsibility, like others at that time. And I stand by that and accept that responsibility.”

He thinks that, in short, a good compromise has been reached. “We do not allow ourselves to be deceived by calls for ‘zero COVID’, that is, to allow no more infections, nor by the approach of simply ‘letting it go’ and simply accepting an overburdened healthcare system.”

“We had critical debates. We managed to correct ourselves. This is what distinguishes us, as a democracy, from autocratic countries like China”, said the former minister in the then black-red government of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU).

Spahn said: “It’s not like a reassessment hasn’t already taken place. Greater preparedness for a pandemic and the development of vaccination capabilities are just two examples from which concrete conclusions have already been drawn.” He also mentioned the general debate about sovereignty and that one should not depend too much on countries like China.

Looking back, Spahn recently commented on crisis management in the first two years of Corona in a book published in 2022. He called it a “particular failure” that “we were unable to protect children and young people from the consequences of this pandemic as we should have have done”.

His successor, Karl Lauterbach (SPD), made similar comments and at the same time emphasized that the management of the pandemic had been very successful overall. Lauterbach also seemed open to reevaluation.

Spahn said: “These were challenging years for society, for every individual, every family, every company and for politics. At the same time, we have to realize that every country in the world asked the same questions we did and gave very similar answers to ours.”

The corona crisis also left behind conflicts. Spahn said he experiences both when he’s at events. “There are those who say thank you: ‘You guided us well in this difficult time.’ And there are these, I feel to this day, especially with regard to vaccination, where things have become much stricter. In this aspect, conversation can help heal things if there is an openness to it.”

In April 2020, Spahn used a striking formula to appeal to understanding for difficult decisions – namely, “that we will probably have to forgive each other a lot”. And does he now see the willingness to forgive? “The vast majority have them,” said the CDU politician. “Unfortunately, those who are ruthless are often the loudest. But it’s not the majority.” © dpa/

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