Merkel crisis: German Chancellor ‘clashes’ with top medic over coronavirus strategy

German newspaper Bild reports Angela Merkel has repeatedly clashed with Germany’s leading coronavirus expert Christian Drosten. It is understood the German Chancellor has been at loggerheads with the virologist over a number of issues, including the rate of infection, border closures and the re-opening of schools.

Ms Merkel has been growing increasingly frustrated at receiving mixed scientific advice on what action to take during the pandemic.

Bild reports Mr Drosten had been undecided over whether to restrict travel in and out of the country, days before Ms Merkel informed the German people it was being considered.

It is reported just two days later Mr Drosten then supported a decision to shut the border.

On schools the newspaper reports Ms Merkel was advised to close them, just 24 hours after being informed students should continue to attend.

According to the German newspaper Ms Merkel described the change of mind as a “typical Drosten move”.

However the reported private disagreements were not reflected in the public press conferences, in which Ms Merkel praised the use of science and acknowledged its evidence is always changing.

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In a press conference, Ms Merkel said: “The hallmark of science is that the new findings are always made transparent.”

She added: “Nothing would be worse than if scientists kept their latest findings from us.”

A German government spokesman has denied there has been any disagreements between the Chancellor and Mr Drosten.

He said: “The Chancellor spoke at the press conference about the important role of science and of Mr Drosten. It was no different in the conference with the Minister Presidents.”

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Germany is continuing to ease its lockdown measures and will re-open playgrounds, museums and churches from Monday.

This week small shops began trading once again, meanwhile the Bundestag is also working on a plan to reopen bars and restaurants.

Germany has the sixth-highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections with more than 162,000 confirmed cases, but its radical testing programme has significantly reduced the number of deaths compared to the rest of Europe and the UK.

Germany has recorded more than 6,500 COVID-19 fatalities – less than a quarter of the UK death toll.


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However Ms Merkel has urged caution and stressed the need to keep the infection rate down and avoid a second peak.

Merkel said: “We must work to make sure we bring the number of new infections down further.

“If the infection curve becomes steep again, we need to have a warning system to notice it early and be able to act.”

(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)

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