Is the lockdown working?

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Dear Reader,

The anti-lockdown Querdenker demos are becoming increasingly aggressive, as yesterday’s chaotic scenes in Frankfurt showed. Today we reached Halbzeit in the second lockdown. Is it working? Read on to find out…

Plus a follow-up on two stories we’ve covered in the past…


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Is the lockdown working?

That’s the question Germany has been asking itself this week after the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported a flattening of the rise in daily cases. Infections have plateaued around the 20,000 mark, where they were last week too.  

  • While the government has been urging caution, excitable journos have already taken it as proof of Merkel masterminding a new turnaround. The economics editor at Die Welt published a “Merkel-o-meter” which shows the seven-day infection rate flattening after her decision to call a lockdown on October 28th. Unfortunately for this theory, the RKI value that gives a better indication of when the spread of the virus started to slow is the “reproduction value”. This number, which estimates how many people the average carrier passes the virus onto, had already fallen to around one (i.e. the spread had stopped increasing) before Merkel imposed the lockdown.

  • The RKI warns that the “R value” needs to come down even further if their track and trace strategy can start working again. In the words of RKI boss Lother Wieler: “We are really going to have to pull our arse cheeks together for the next few months.” 

  • The focus now is on Germany’s intensive care capacity. There are currently more beds taken up by coronavirus patients than in April. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that, whatever happens now, the health system is going to be brought to breaking point. But the surge in intensive care occupation seen in October is already slowing. Whereas around 150 extra beds a day were being taken up by Covid patients ten days ago, the daily increase has dropped to around 60.

  • All eyes are now on a Halbzeit meeting between Merkel and state leaders on Monday to assess how the first two weeks of lockdown have bgine and what actions are to be taken next.


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Then what happened…

  • In August, Jörg wrote about Nordstream 2 and the small town of Sassnitz on the Baltic coast, which the US threatened with sanctions. Even after the attempted killing of Alexei Navalny, all parties but the Greens are in favour of finishing the controversial gas pipeline. Regardless of who will be living in the White House next year - the US is stongly opposed. This week the US Congress voted to target sanctions at insurance companies working on the project. Angela Merkel and Joe Biden’s relationship might get off to a rocky start after all…

  • In September Axel wrote about the surprise decision by the Defence Ministry to buy €250M worth of machine guns from Haenal, an obscure company from Thuringia, controlled by Abu Dhabi’s state defence manufacturer EDGE. The decision didn’t go down well with Heckler & Koch, which for decades has been the army’s supplier of choice. H&K promptly submitted a complaint and the Defence Ministry was forced to pause the purchase, which has been dragging on for over three years. There is suspicion of patent infringement by Haenal.“We want to continue to supply the Bundeswehr. It’s a matter of prestige,” said Heckler & Koch CEO Jens Bodo, who appears confident that German soldiers will still be firing his company’s rifles for years to come.


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Who we are:

Jörg Luyken: Journalist based in Berlin since 2014. His work has been published by German and English outlets including der Spiegel, die Welt, the Daily Telegraph and the Times. Formerly in the Middle East.

Axel Bard Bringéus: Started his career as a journalist for the leading Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet and has spent the last decade in senior roles at Spotify and as a venture capital investor. In Berlin since 2011.