The Christmas problems start with the guest list.

It should be as short as possible, say FAS health politicians, for example Berlin Senator Dilek Kalayci from the SPD.

“Take it easy,” she advises, “and only celebrate in a small group.” There are many variations of this appeal, but they all go in the same direction.

The CDU health politician Erwin Rüddel advises the "smaller", Saxony's Minister of Health Petra Köpping from the SPD even advises the "smallest circle".

Bavaria's Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) wants citizens to “reduce their contacts to the bare minimum” on Christmas and New Year's Eve.

In short: Christmas shouldn't be missed, but neither should it get out of hand.

Justus Bender

Editor in politics of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

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Oliver Georgi

Editor in politics of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

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Dyrk Scherff

Editor in the "Money & More" section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

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The reasons for this are the omicron variant and the poor effect of the vaccines against it.

The computer scientist Kai Nagel, who is calculating the course of the pandemic at the Free University of Berlin, is therefore worried.

The delta wave is just at its apex and will soon be subsiding.

Then comes the omicron wave.

"From the current perspective, Omikron infections will spread the new variant in the republic at family Christmas parties, making it almost impossible to contain Omikron," he says.

"You don't have to keep throwing yourself around your neck"

The next problem is with vaccines. The Frankfurt virologist Sandra Ciesek examined them and found that Omikron "does indeed have a lower effectiveness". So the current vaccine is not so well adapted to Omikron, and the antibodies in the blood disappear faster than initially hoped. “That is why a third vaccination is so important to optimize vaccination protection,” says Ciesek. The experts do not yet know how dangerous Omikron is. In South Africa, where the variant was discovered, there were many mild courses, but many South Africans had previously developed other variants or had been vaccinated.

So if Christmas is not to cost lives everyone must be extra careful. However, it is not always easy to weigh up measures. Those who only meet outdoors reduce the likelihood of infection by a factor of 10, and those who wear an FFP2 mask have the same effect. That multiplies. So if you stroll through the Christmas market with an FFP2 mask, you are 100 times less likely to get infected than at a meeting indoors. But Christmas Eve is mostly played inside. What to do?

Some advise self-tests, even for those who have been vaccinated.

Ciesek and Nagel say that, including the Bremen Health Senator Claudia Bernhard from the Left Party.

And even after a negative test, warns Bavaria's Minister Holetschek, you shouldn't sit back and relax.

Even then, distance, hygiene and regular ventilation are essential.

But some also see it differently.

The head of the Lübeck health department, the physician Alexander Mischnik, finds self-tests at best psychologically helpful for those who have been vaccinated.

Because the tests are far too imprecise for vaccinated people.

“If you ask me as a doctor and microbiologist, that doesn't make sense.” Tests conveyed a feeling of solidarity for everyone, but also created a false sense of security.