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German govt official suspended after accusing political leaders of overreacting to pandemic

A German Interior Ministry official was suspended after he prepared an almost 100-page analysis of what he said was the government’s overblown response to the coronavirus and then leaked the document publicly after sending it to various officials.

Stephan Kohn characterized the government’s predictions of COVID-19 victims as a “serious failure of crisis management” and a “false alarm.” His analysis was first reported by Tichys Einblick on May 9.

Kohn said the German government was responsible for “the disinformation of the population.”

“One accusation could be: The state has proven to be one of the biggest fake-news producers in the coronavirus crisis,” he wrote in his analysis.

The document essentially accused the government of overplaying the dangers of COVID-19. At the same time, the measures intended to slow the spread of the disease, the text argued, have caused more damage than the coronavirus itself would have caused without the lockdown.

The analysis was finalized on May 7 and sent by Kohn to leaders within the interior ministry, who did not do anything about it. From there, it was leaked to the media. Kohn, a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, was subsequently suspended.

The analysis compiled by Kohn and his team pointed out how the coronavirus “presumably did not pose a risk to the population beyond the normal level at any time (the parameter of comparison being the usual death rate in Germany).”

According to the document, “The danger of COVID-19 was overestimated.” Compared to 1.5 million deaths during the flu season of 2017 and 2018, “no more than 250,000 deaths” have been recorded worldwide in relation to the coronavirus. Since that writing, the number has risen to about 370,000.

“The danger is obviously no greater than that of many other viruses,” Kohn and his team continued. “In all probability, we are dealing with a global false alarm that has gone undetected for a long time.”

Collateral damage caused by the lockdown “is now higher than its discernible benefit. This statement is not based on a comparison of material damage to personal injury (human life)! A simple comparison of previous deaths caused by the virus with deaths caused by the protective measures decreed by the state (both without a reliable database) substantiate the findings.”

In another section, the document looked at the health impacts of the lockdown measures imposed throughout Germany on March 22.

As of today, Germany has officially counted 8,581 deaths due to COVID-19. Postponing 90 percent of surgeries in April and May, according to experts, could have caused, and still cause, between 5,000 and 125,000 deaths. The analysis cautioned, however, that the mortality rate due to postponed surgeries “cannot be reliably estimated.”

Canceled treatments for people suffering from cancer and other illnesses was also named as a contributing factor to the mortality rate induced by the lockdown.

Care recipients, especially the elderly, are not only living in nursing homes in Germany. Those who live in their own homes are visited by mobile nursing services several times per week, or even daily. In this context, a lowered level of care, with just one-tenth of one percent of those in need of care dying, would amount to 3,500 deaths.

The document indicated suicides would be more likely amid psychological tensions that can be attributed to the lockdown, including loss of employment.

Apart from deaths caused in this immediate way by the lockdown, the analysis pointed out other health implications, for instance, the lack of social interaction, which particularly affects the elderly, as well as domestic abuse.

Even overall life expectancy could be reduced, thanks to a significantly negative development of the economy. The Robert Koch Institute, which is the German government agency for disease control and prevention, has found that, statistically, high unemployment leads to a lower life expectancy.

Certain restrictions such as social distancing are still in place in Germany and other parts of the world. On May 7, the analysis had already called on the government to remove all limitations in the immediate future “in order to prevent harm to the population – in particular unnecessary additional deaths.”

The German interior ministry went into damage control mode, saying Kohn was not authorized to prepare the analysis and that it does not represent the views of the interior ministry.

Kohn, however, had for several weeks corresponded with co-workers, including his superiors. He was never prohibited from working on the analysis, which not only criticized the government but also the media for essentially regurgitating what they were given by Chancellor Angela Merkel and other public authorities.

“The almost universally positive response of the media in particular to any activity of the Chancellor, no matter what she was announcing and how and with what timing she was presenting or even changing her position on certain issues as without alternative, unfortunately confirms negative prejudices about the press,” Kohn and his team wrote.

“The vast majority of the (free) press seems more or less useless as a corrective for undesirable developments, for instance in suboptimal crisis management,” the analysis continued. “From the perspective of the state as a whole, this must be seen as a warning signal. It is highly recommended that future adjustments of the legal or general conditions should be aimed at restoring greater independence and critical faculties.”

According to the document, it is highly unlikely “that the press would unanimously criticize the government on a massive scale in a one-sided and unjust manner.” The chance of having the media agitate against the government and “trigger a change in political power is likely to be close to zero.”

“There is a very high risk that the population will believe everything that is served up to them by most of the media, and will uncritically adopt it.”

Kohn’s scathing critique of the media was vindicated immediately after the publication of the analysis. Many media outlets simply repeated the interior ministry’s spin that Kohn acted on his own and was not authorized to publish, or even compose, the document.

Original: LIFE SITE – Martin Bürger

Published: Jun 4, 2020