German doctors are taking it all off to protest their country's lack of protective gear
Germany has earned praise for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The country of 83 million has had 159,239 cases and 6,177 deaths. Compare that to the United States which has about four times the people but more than six times the cases and nine times the deaths.
Germany implemented aggressive social distancing measures at the onset of the outbreak and had a structural advantage over the U.S. Germany has a balanced budget that gave it the financial flexibility to help its citizens and businesses during the pandemic.
The U.S. federal government was already in a mountain of debt and its healthcare system under-serves a large portion of the population.
"This is a crisis which, on the one hand, has probably hit the U.S. where it is most vulnerable, namely health care," said Carsten Brzeski, ING bank's chief Eurozone economist. "While at the same time it has hit the German economy where it's the strongest."
However, there is one area where Germany was caught flat-footed by the virus. It didn't have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for its healthcare workers.
A group of doctors is protesting the lack of PPEs by posing naked in a campaign they call Blanke Bedenken, which roughly translates as "Bare Concerns." They are also encouraging fellow healthcare workers to share their photos to help get the word out.
via Blanke Bedenken
"We are your GPs. To be able to treat you safely, we need protective gear. When we run out of the little we have, we look like this," the organizers say in a statement on their website. "We are all vulnerable. Medical practices need more support from politics," the Blanke Bedenken group added.
The funny photos show the doctors tastefully posing alongside toilet paper, out in the sunshine, and even examining a patient. "The nudity is a symbol of how vulnerable we are without protection," Ruben Bernau, a doctor in the group, said according to The Guardian.
via Blanke Bedenken
One doctor said she was "trained to sew up wounds" and asked: "Why am I now having to sew my own face mask?"
The idea for the protest was inspired by a French doctor who posed naked to protest the lack of PPEs in his country. Alain Colombié posed naked with an armband that read "canon fodder" in French in a message directed at French President Emmanuel Macron.
A spokesperson from Germany's federal ministry of health says the shortages are tied to the massive increase in worldwide demand. "Due to worldwide rapid rise of Covid-19 infection numbers the demand for medical supplies, such as gloves, breathing masks, protective clothing and ventilators, increased. This led to worldwide supply shortages," they told CNN.
Healthcare workers have also reported several cases of supply theft at hospitals they believe may be tied to organized crime.
German authorities are working as fast as they can to ramp up production of PPEs and a recent shipment of 10 million masks from China should help ease the burden.
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