Germany’s chancellor-designate Olaf Scholz has appointed the MP, public health expert and epidemiologist Karl Lauterbach as his health minister, putting a voice of caution in charge of the pandemic response.
Lauterbach, one of the most recognisable faces of the government’s anti-crisis measures, became known for his communication skills and advocacy of lockdown regulations to fight the spread of Covid-19.
“We will win the fight against the pandemic and we will be better equipped for further pandemics,” said Lauterbach, who has been adjunct professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health since 2008. Vaccinations would, he said, “play a central role”.
Germany is in the grip of another wave of coronavirus, with infections soaring last month to levels not seen since the start of the pandemic. Authorities have signalled they will introduce mandatory vaccinations next year to tackle the low rate of uptake.
Scholz is due to be elected chancellor by the Bundestag on Wednesday, nearly 11 weeks after his Social Democrats won national elections that ended Angela Merkel’s 16-year rule. He will lead a three-way coalition with the Greens and liberal Free Democrats.
The FDP and Greens have announced their nominees for cabinet posts.
Scholz is appointing SPD women to head Germany’s interior, defence and interior ministries. “In this government, security will be in the hands of strong women,” he said.
Nancy Faeser, a lawyer who leads the Social Democrats in the southern state of Hesse, will become interior minister, overseeing the federal police force and domestic intelligence.
Christine Lambrecht, the outgoing justice minister, will move to defence, while Klara Geywitz, a Social Democrat legislator from the eastern state of Brandenburg, will become minister of construction.