"We are experiencing the first endemic wave with Sars-CoV-2 this winter; in my estimation the pandemic is over," the head of virology at Berlin's Charité University Hospital said, referring to the coronavirus behind the global pandemic.
After this winter, the immunity in the population would be so broad and resilient that the virus stood little chance in the summer, Drosten said in comments published on Monday.
Small waves are still possible
Meanwhile, intensive care physician Christian Karagiannidis, who is also a member of Germany's COVID-19 expert council, said the pandemic would likely be over after the winter.
"I expect that the pandemic will now increasingly run its course," Karagiannidis said in an interview with the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND).
While one or two small COVID-19 waves were still likely, Karagiannidis said the population's immunity was solid and there were significantly fewer COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.
Vaccination a key factor
Drosten named the success of the vaccination campaigns in Germany and other European countries as the reason for the end of the pandemic.
He mentioned that this is not the case in China, for example, where corona infections are currently spreading rapidly.
Drosten also defended the protective measures against the coronavirus. "If nothing had been done, there would have been a million or more deaths in Germany in the waves up to delta," he said. The delta variant of the virus reached Germany in mid-2021.
What about restrictive measures?
German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann called for lifting all restrictive measures in response to Drosten's statements.
Noting that Drosten was one of the most cautious scientists during the pandemic, Buschmann tweeted: "We are in the endemic situation. As a political consequence, we should terminate the last coronavirus protective measures."
Most corona protection measures have already been lifted in Germany. However, the obligation to wear masks on public transport and in hospitals, care facilities and medical practices continues to apply. In some medical facilities, there are also mandatory tests or visit restrictions.
dh/dj (dpa, AFP)