German Ambassador Dr. Emily Haber on successful COVID-19 response

On April 8, 2020 the Meridian Corporate Council hosted a virtual convening with the Ambassador of Germany, Her Excellency Dr. Emily Haber, on Germany's success in combating the spread of COVID-19 as well as European solidarity in fighting the virus. Below are the top takeaways from the conversation.

GERMANY STARTING TESTING EARLY.

Germany has been recognized for its low mortality rates during the initial spread of the coronavirus — and its preparedness has been cited as a model amongst its neighbors. Ambassador Haber highlighted that this effectiveness in managing the disease was due to the ‘head-start’ that Germany had in addressing the pandemic. Notably, German scientists developed a COVID-19 test even before the pandemic became an immediate concern for the country which enabled early, comprehensive testing. Germany continuously expanded intensive care units which are currently only at 40 percent capacity. It’s too early to speak of success, however, with Germany still being in the midst of the pandemic.

EUROPEAN SOLIDARITY ON THE RISE.

International cooperation is crucial to effectively manage the political and economic effects of COVID-19.  As each government works to protect its citizens while also supporting those countries most in need, cooperation and coordination among EU members are key. This cooperation has taken various forms. For example, the European Central Bank has made available €3 trillion in liquidity for assistance regarding COVID-19. In addition, Ambassador Haber pointed to the need for medical solidarity during this time. Germany has opened hospitals to patients from neighboring countries and shared equipment with France and Italy.

DISINFORMATION CAUSES CONCERN.

The COVID-19 health crisis proves to be a unique challenge, incomparable to anything the world has faced in living memory. As the governments everywhere monitor the disease on all political, social, medical and economic fronts, two major areas of concern continue to be the lack of transparency and the spread of false narratives. These trends are particularly worrying in a moment of crisis as many struggle to live their typical day-to-day lives. Haber asserted that all governments should push back against the spread of disinformation to ensure all citizens are equally and correctly informed.

WILL EUROPEAN MOBILITY SUFFER?

The Schengen Agreement has lifted travel restrictions within Europe. With many countries now  limiting travel to curb the fast-spreading disease, the principles of the agreement have been called into question by some. However, the agreement allows for temporary restrictions in order to protect public safety. While many European countries have implemented such restrictions, Ambassador Haber noted that Germany’s borders have not been fully closed.

HOW CAN WE SAVE THE ECONOMY?

This pandemic is causing millions to recall the last time the world faced this much panic, with many landing on the 2008 financial crisis as the only comparison. As the stock market continues to fluctuate, Ambassador Haber warned that economic policy decisions should be made with full awareness that this crisis cannot and should not be equated to 2008 and that international coordination and cooperation remain absolutely crucial.

To read more on Meridian's response to COVID-19, click here.

Project summary

German Ambassador Dr. Emily Haber on successful COVID-19 response
Regions: Western Hemisphere
Countries: Germany, United States
Impact Areas: Global Health
Program Areas: Convening