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Freiburg Experts Answer the Most Pressing Coronavirus Questions

Prof. Dr. Rober Thimme and Prof. Dr. Siegbert Richard Rieg – experts from the Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Endocrinology and Infectious Diseases – spoke with us about Covid-19, addressing the important questions.

What are the long-term consequences of an infection with Covid-19?

We are currently still gaining experience here, but there are many long-term effects that can range from exhaustion, shortness of breath, headaches and sleep disorders to depression and chronic organ involvement. However, it must be emphasized that these long-term effects do not occur very often in general.

Why is there the second wave? Why are there fewer intensive care patients now than in March-April 2020?

The second wave was to be expected because the virus is easily transmitted and of course, especially in the autumn and winter months, people come together again in narrower and more closed spaces. This is also the reason why the flu virus causes the biggest problems in winter.

There are fewer intensive care patients on the one hand because of the measures that have now been strictly implemented, such as wearing everyday masks or mouth-nose masks and keeping a distance to other people. But of course we have also learned to treat coronavirus-induced diseases better, like we know now about the early use of steroids. In addition, the average age of those infected is lower in the second wave - so we should continue to try to protect the risk groups from infection, i.e. especially the elderly.

When will a Covid-19 vaccination be ready?

Optimists expect approval this winter. It can be assumed that vaccination coverage of the population, i.e. the provision of sufficient vaccination doses, will certainly take well into the next year.

Does a flu vaccination protect against Covid-19?

Unfortunately, a flu vaccination does not protect against Covid-19, as this is a vaccination against the influenza, not the corona virus. However, it prevents influenza-related hospital admissions, which can be an important contribution with regards to possible supply bottlenecks.

They say the Covid-19 viruses are constantly mutating? Does mutation make the virus more dangerous?

Fortunately, the Covid-19 viruses don't mutate all the time, and mutations relevant to humans have not yet come to light. In principle, however, it would of course be possible that mutations make the virus more dangerous. In other pandemics (e.g. the influenza pandemic of 1918), however, the second wave also tended to lead to milder diseases.

Does it even make sense to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in the future?

Absolutely, it is probably the only way to get the current pandemic under control in the foreseeable future. In addition to the general population, every single person also benefits: According to the efficacy data available so far, vaccination can reduce the risk of seriously contracting COVID-19 by 80-90% through vaccination.

Do I still have to wear a mask after recovering from Covid-19?

Yes, we do not yet know for sure whether (or for how long) an immune response that is present after recovery from an infection with Covid-19 will protect against reinfection. A few cases of reinfections have been described, but most of them were light.

How long is a sick person infectious?

Usually only a few days. Five days after the symptoms of the disease have ended, you can actually assume that you are no longer infectious.

How much longer will the whole matter last? When do you think the pandemic will reach its climax? Will Covid-19 come back next autumn / winter 2021/2022?

I hope that the climax will be reached this winter and, thanks to the vaccination, that we may be able to return to a normal life next summer.

Can I strengthen my immune system so that I can fight off the virus better? Are there medications that can be taken for prophylaxis after contact with a person infected with Covid-19?

Of course the immune system can be strengthened, e.g. through a healthy diet and exercise, but not through specific medication. There is currently nothing that one can really recommend with a clear conscience.


Prof. Dr. Rober Thimme – Medical Director of the Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Endocrinology and Infectious Diseases

Prof. Dr. Siegbert Richard Rieg – Senior Physician of the Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Endocrinology and Infectious Diseases

Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Endocrinology and Infectious Diseases