Pandemic: Lauterbach rejects accusations of political influence on RKI

Pandemic: Lauterbach rejects accusations of political influence on RKI


Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) has accused external influence on the risk assessment
Robert Koch Institute (RKI) was rejected at the beginning of the corona pandemic in 2020. “The RKI worked independently of political instructions,” said Lauterbach in a report by the online magazine Multipolar. This had published partly redacted minutes of the RKI crisis team from January 2020 to April 2021.

After the minutes were published, part of the opposition called for a committee of inquiry. According to the report, a protocol from March 16, 2020 speaks of a prepared new risk assessment by the RKI: “It is to be scaled up this week. The risk assessment will be published as soon as (passage redacted) gives a signal for this.” The magazine Multipolar deduced from this that the tightening of the risk assessment was not based on a technical assessment by the institute. Rather, it was created at the political direction of an external actor whose name was blacked out in the minutes.

Lauterbach said that the “redacted employee” was an employee of the RKI. “So there was no political directive to which the RKI would have reacted here.” If there are redactions in the papers, this usually affects employees who need to be protected from the public. The RKI announced the new risk assessment for the population in a press conference on March 17, 2020; it was changed from “moderate” to “high”.

The reason given by the RKI was a very strong increase in detected infections – even if there were initially a few cases overall at the time. But health authorities were increasingly overwhelmed with contact tracing. The RKI carried out a technical assessment at the time, which should also be seen in the context of the time, the ministry said: The World Health Organization had done so just five days earlier, on March 11, 2020 Pandemic called out.

Review of crisis management

Lauterbach said the RKI’s performance in the early phases of the pandemic was “excellent”. Far fewer people died in Germany than in other countries. The minister spoke out in favor of a scientific review of crisis management, for example in the Health and Resilience Expert Council that had just been set up at the Chancellery. However, a political debate in which small groups tried to use the topic and use it to make politics against the state could not advance society.

Multipolar According to its own information, the publication of the minutes was legally enforced with an application under the Freedom of Information Act. Critics have described the portal as similar to conspiracy narrative publications.

The RKI announced that the protocols were summaries of discussions and decisions within the crisis team. “These discussions reflect open scientific discourse in which different perspectives are addressed and weighed.” Individual statements did not necessarily reflect the then agreed position of the RKI. The institute had released the documents as part of legal proceedings, a spokeswoman said at the request of the dpa news agency. According to the spokeswoman, the RKI cannot assess whether the documents posted online are the original documents.


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