Germany’s leading ethical council on Thursday advised against giving special privileges or advantages to people who are vaccinated against COVID-19.
The German Ethics Council said it would be “unacceptable” under current conditions to lift coronavirus restrictions on an individual basis, and introduce special rules for vaccinated persons.
In its recommendation to the government, the council underlined that “the possibility that vaccinated people may still spread the virus cannot be excluded with sufficient certainty,” according to the latest researches.
The ethical council argued that the far-reaching restrictions on social, economic and cultural life “must be withdrawn for all” once the case numbers would be successfully reduced, and no longer constitute a threat to the country’s health system.
“Lifting civil liberty restrictions prior to this exclusively for vaccinated people, could at most be justified if it were sufficiently certain that they could no longer spread the virus,” the council said.
“However, questions of justice and potential consequences for acceptance of the vaccination strategy would also have to be considered.”
Germany has been under strict lockdown since Dec. 16 as the country is struggling to cope with a more deadly second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Schools, day cares, and all non-essential shops remain closed nationwide, and the government is expected to extend the lockdown measures beyond the Feb. 14 deadline, due to concerns over the mutated strains of the virus.
Several politicians, including Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, have suggested lockdown relaxation for persons who have been vaccinated, but other leading members of the Cabinet opposed the idea, fearing this could lead to inequalities and split in the society.
Germany’s vaccine rollout has been hampered by production delays and logistical problems, but Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government is still planning to offer every citizen a vaccine by the end of Sept. 21.
As of Wednesday, nearly 2 million people (2.4% of the adult population) received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Robert Koch Institute. A total of 679,649 people have received their second jab.
Germany currently has the fifth-highest tally of coronavirus infections in Western Europe, behind the UK, France, Spain and Italy.
The national total now stands at over 2.25 million cases with at least 59,742 deaths.