The trend is clear – a summer wave of COVID-19 cases is predicted by medical experts. While the current numbers are low, indicators such as virus levels in wastewater, severe respiratory illnesses, and hospital admissions are all on the rise. The seven-day incidence rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases is currently at 2.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, up from 1.0 at the beginning of June. Although testing for COVID-19 is less systematic now, other indicators like virus levels in wastewater and hospitalizations mirror this upward trend.

According to Christian Karagiannidis, head of the Intensive Care Register of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine, a COVID-19 summer wave is building. However, he remains calm, noting that there are currently no severe cases and overall disease burden from current variants is low due to the population’s strong immunity.

While testing is limited, at-risk patients with Long COVID, heavily suppressed immune systems, or those with transplanted organs should remain cautious. Karagiannidis recommends that high-risk individuals should consider getting a booster shot in the fall as per the recommendations of the STIKO.

The Omicron subtypes KP.3 and KP.2 continue to dominate the current variant landscape, with over half of the samples showing KP.3 and around 15% showing KP.2. These variants belong to the FLiRT group and have been increasing rapidly since early April.

Looking ahead, experts warn that COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic. The ongoing surveillance of the H5N1 avian flu virus, which has the potential to jump from birds to mammals and has recently infected cows and humans in the US, is a cause for concern. Virologists like Christian Drosten and Isabella Eckerle emphasize the need for better preparedness and communication to address future pandemics.

The divisive nature of COVID-19 measures has left deep societal divides that persist even as infection rates decline. Calls for a thorough review of pandemic policies are growing, with proposals for citizen councils and parliamentary commissions under consideration. While some advocate for citizen involvement in the review process, others question the coalition’s commitment to a comprehensive assessment of the pandemic period.

In the absence of a cohesive approach, the prospect of a formal review of pandemic policies remains uncertain. As the political landscape grapples with the aftermath of COVID-19, the need for transparency, accountability, and collaboration in shaping future pandemic responses is more critical than ever.