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the coronavirus crisis

Health minister warns Germans will be 'either vaccinated, recovered or dead' by end of winter

Germany's health minister is issuing a warning to those not vaccinated against COVID-19 as the country grapples with a significant coronavirus surge. 

Germany is currently facing a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, which Chancellor Angela Merkel has described as "worse than anything we've seen" during the pandemic so far, Bloomberg reports. Amid the surge in cases, German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned Monday that by the end of the winter, "just about everyone in Germany will probably be either vaccinated, recovered or dead." 

Spahn added that while this prediction may seem cynical, given how contagious the Delta variant of COVID-19 is, "this is very, very likely," and this is "why we are recommending vaccination so urgently," The Associated Press reports

Germany recently reported its highest one-day total of new COVID-19 cases of the pandemic so far. "The current pandemic situation in Germany is dramatic," Merkel said, per CNN. "I can't say it any other way." Merkel also called for action to be taken before "the intensive care units are full," noting that doing so afterward "would be too late." 

Austria on Monday implemented a COVID-19 lockdown amid a surge in cases, and protests have broken out in Europe against new COVID-19 restrictions. Spahn previously said that Germany wouldn't rule out a nationwide lockdown, and he said Monday, "Immunity will be reached. The question is whether it's via vaccination or infection, and we empathetically recommend the path via vaccination."