"How the unvaccinated are currently excluded from society follows a well-known mechanism of exclusion: a particular group of people is stylized as the only obstacle to achieving a common goal - the end of the pandemic. Yet exclusion is the wrong way to go, and always" comments Janina Lionello.

Insults, accusations, maliciousness: When I read comments about the unvaccinated that frequently circulate in social media, I am deeply shocked each time. They reflect a development that I have also been observing in my environment lately: people who have been advocating tolerance and pluralism for years suddenly consider exclusion to be legitimate - as long as it only affects "the right people".

They are not offended that colleagues have to sit separately in the cafeteria, nor are they bothered by the fact that people who choose not to be vaccinated are "appropriately" identified at university. Those who do not want to be vaccinated are not allowed to buy Christmas presents or enter a hair salon - but there is no outrage about this. Instead, no matter how senseless, every rule is blown up into a life-saving pandemic containment measure.

The justifications are often similar: "It's up to them! Let them get vaccinated!" But acting against one's conviction can be a terrible experience for a person - regardless of whether an outsider who does not share this conviction can comprehend it or not. That is something that must be respected. Empathy for the experience of people who think differently is lost on many people these days, and tolerance seems to have degenerated into a rigid concept that is only applied to positions that are shared anyway.

A vaccination quota is not an end in itself

We have become skilled at recognizing discriminatory words and symbols and positioning ourselves against them. However, we often do not see through the mechanisms behind them. It is pure ethnocentrism to believe that minorities are discriminated against in other societies because their people are evil or backward. The mechanisms at work are almost always the same: a particular group is split off from the rest by being declared the only obstacle to achieving a common goal. Just a few per cent more vaccination rate and the pandemic would come to a halt, so the widespread belief.

A look at countries where infection waves are piling up despite very high vaccination rates - currently, for example, Denmark, Portugal or Ireland - leads this argumentation ad absurdum. However, the fact that high vaccination rates correlate with lower case numbers in some places does not invalidate this argument either because clear evidence looks somewhat different.

Vaccination is the most effective means of getting through the pandemic well because it certainly fulfils its central benefit - preventing severe courses of disease. However, the epidemiological goal of bringing waves of infections to a halt through high antibody levels in the entire population is unrealistic because the mere fact that vaccinated people are infectious for a slightly shorter time on average does not mean that they contribute significantly less to the incidence of infection. Virologists such as Christian Drosten and Alexander Kekulé also speak out against the term "pandemic of the unvaccinated".

Kekulé even argues that 2G (note: vaccinated or recovered) additionally fuels the infection process since vaccinated infected persons are more mobile due to a lack of disease symptoms. The infection figures in the countries mentioned are an indication of this.

Incomplete data

Politicians like to argue that the burden of disease in intensive care units caused by unvaccinated patients is much higher than that caused by vaccinated patients. In fact, physicians describe the situation in intensive care units so that it is primarily unvaccinated who end up there. Unfortunately, however, there are no reliable data on this to date. While the RKI still provides incomplete data, the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) has not yet managed to publish figures on the vaccination status of intensive care patients in Germany - although the government coalition announced this in mid-November.

And even if that were the case, other people responsible for serious illnesses, such as obesity or smoker's lungs, and therefore occupy intensive care units, have not yet been tackled for this.

Instead of raging at the unvaccinated, pandemic exaggerators would do better to focus their anger on politicians who, after almost two years of pandemic, have still not managed to provide proper data to enable targeted pandemic management and who have stood idly by while intensive care beds are gradually reduced."