Germany's chief of staff hailed for coronavirus response

The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has wreaked considerable havoc on the world since the beginning of 2020. Still, it seems some countries have managed a better public health response to the crisis than others. One of the countries hailed in that regard is Germany, whose success is attributed in no small part to strong government leadership. Two figures, in particular, have garnered acclaim: Chancellor Angela Merkel, and her chief of staff (COS) Helge Braun, who is a doctor by training

By June 1, Germany had over 180,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, which made it the world’s ninth-worst affected country. Yet the death rate of just 8,546, or about 4.7 per cent of the total world coronavirus deaths, is remarkably low. The 103 deaths per million inhabitants are considerably lower than neighbouring countries, such as 30 for France, 554 for Italy and 579 for the UK.

As a recent piece in the Financial Times has described it, the “well-oiled government” of Chancellor Merkel and her COS has “avoided the screeching policy zigzags seen elsewhere.” Interestingly, Chancellor Merkel and her COS had instituted one of the least stringent lockdowns in Europe, with a large proportion of businesses and factories continuing to operate as usual. The lockdown was also more quickly repealed than in other jurisdictions, and healthcare systems did not come under strain at any point.

Many factors contributed to Germany’s success, including high health expenditure per capita, a uniform hospital standard throughout the country, rapid deployment of healthcare adaptations to the crisis, a massive economic aid package and consistent response across the federation. As Reinhart Busse, a physician and health economist told the financial times: “it makes a difference that the chancellor is a scientist and her chief of staff a doctor. That has shaped our response to this pandemic.”

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