Coronavirus: why Germany have such a low death toll from covid-19 compared to other countries?


Let me tell you: the situation is serious. They have to take it seriously too. Since the reunification of Germany ... no, since the Second World War, our country had not faced another challenge in which everything depended so much on our joint solidarity action ”.

The words are from the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, referring to the impact that the new coronavirus pandemic has on her country, which until this Saturday, March 21, had left more than 11,500 deaths worldwide, according to the calculation of the University Johns Hopkins. Something that has caught the attention of experts is the low mortality rate among German patients compared to that of other countries, such as Italy or Spain.
Why Germany have very low death toll from Coronavirus covid-19 compared to other countries?

The words are from the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, referring to the impact that the new coronavirus pandemic has on her country, which until this Saturday, March 21, had left more than 11,500 deaths worldwide, according to the calculation of the University Johns Hopkins.
Something that has caught the attention of experts is the low mortality rate among German patients compared to that of other countries, such as Italy or Spain.

As of this Saturday, Germany had 20,705 confirmed cases of covid-19, surpassing just over 20,610 from Iran to become the fourth country with the most contagions detected.
The difference is that the death toll is 72, compared to 1,556 in Iran, 1,326 in Spain, which has just over 24,000 confirmed cases, or more than 4,000 in Italy, the country with the highest number of deaths. by the coronavirus in the world.
Thus, the death rate in Germany is 0.3%, while that of Italy reaches 8.5%.
"We cannot say exactly why the death rate is so low in Germany, because we are still at an early stage of the epidemic within the country," the Robert Koch Institute for Virology explained in a document sent to BBC World, about the German strategy against covid-19.
"The truth is that we have recommended, from the moment we became aware of the emergency, to expand the number of examinations among the population and thus reduce the possibility of contagion," they added.
One of the keys to low mortality could be the early identification of virus carriers, which slows the spread of the disease.
"The German case is especially due to diagnostic tests and shows that it is not only a good way but an essential component of the fight against the pandemic," Jeremy Rossman, professor of virology at the University of Kent, told BBC (United Kingdom).
For Rossman, we must listen to the words of the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said that you cannot fight the virus if you don't know where it is. "And that is precisely what exams do."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been clear in describing the pandemic: "It is the worst crisis we have had since World War II."
"The tests are a critical component to be able to contain and mitigate this pandemic. This requires extensive tests in people even with mild symptoms," added the academic.

Tests

Germany has also had time in its favor, as the first cases were detected two or three weeks earlier than in some of its neighboring countries, allowing the authorities to take measures to combat the pandemic.
In fact, the Germans were preparing even before the coronavirus arrived in the country (which happened on January 27, when they confirmed the first case), with the creation of a permanent surveillance committee installed on January 6 of this year, in view of the worrying spread of the virus in China.

And it was there that they incorporated diagnostic tests.
“The wide scope of the exams has allowed us to identify the epidemic from a very early stage and that has helped us to work on it," Lothar H. Wieler, director of the Robert Koch Institute, explained at a press conference held this week.
The numbers seem to support his strategy: The Koch Institute told BBC World that Germany has the capacity to perform 160,000 diagnostic tests per week.
In Italy, where the epidemic has been most devastating, a total of 150,000 tests have been carried out as of this Friday. In the United Kingdom, 50,000 and in Spain, 30,000.
In South Korea - a country that has been cited as an example by experts for its ability to carry out tests among the population - about 70,000 examinations are carried out per week, less than in Germany.
Thus, the greater number of tests and cases detected also makes the mortality rate lower among Germans, since the death rate from infected is lower.

Young and under 50

Another factor influencing the low mortality rate of the coronavirus in Germany is that a large part of those infected are young people, who do not suffer the effects of the disease in the same way as the older population.

Many don't even have symptoms.
“In Germany, more than 70% of people identified as infected so far are between 20 and 50 years old," Wieler said last Wednesday.
In Italy - the second country in the world with the oldest population after Japan - on the other hand, the average age of those diagnosed with the coronavirus is 66 years old and 58% are over 60 years old.
Some experts warn that as the virus spreads among the older population in Germany, the death rate is likely to increase as well.

Early detection

The early detection of those infected has also allowed in Germany to quarantine those who represented a higher risk for the spread of viruses.
Anyone who had symptoms or had been in contact with a confirmed case or someone from the virus ”red zones " could agree to have a test.
There was another move by the German health authorities that also had a positive impact on the numbers.

According to different experts, when the first case was presented, immediate action was taken and it was possible to know who was patient zero, a young man infected by a Chinese citizen, who had visited the region of Bavaria and had not presented any symptoms during his stay in the country.

"It can change at any time"

Another aspect highlighted by global health entities is the country's public health system, which is the largest in Europe.
Germany has one of the best distribution of hospitals compared to its inhabitants in the world.
Germany is the fourth country within the 40 nations that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with the highest number of hospital beds per inhabitant, a variable that is used to measure the response capacity of public health systems.
It has 8 places for every 1,000 inhabitants (compared to 3.2 in Italy) and has the highest concentration of hospitals in Europe: 1,900 for its 82 million inhabitants and 28,000 beds in Intensive Care Units.
But even the government and the Koch Institute acknowledge that current numbers do not guarantee that covid-19 will not wreak havoc on the national health system.
"The breadth of the diagnoses has allowed us to understand that it will be a crisis that will take us a long time to resolve, because it is a disease that does not have a vaccine and of which we will have many more deaths," Merieke told BBC World. Degen, spokeswoman for the Koch Institute.
The coronavirus pandemic has already infected more than 200,000 people and killed more than 10,000.
The leader of the Social Democrats in the German Parliament, Karl Lauterbach, warned that, if measures are not maintained to stop the spread of the virus and greater social distancing is demanded, “the advantage that we acquired from good management at the beginning of the crisis we can quickly lose it in the next phase.”
In this sense, Rossman points out that although examinations can be expensive, the German example of examining citizens free of charge should be taken globally since it can help to minimize the negative effects of the pandemic on the economy.
The tests are not cheap or easy to do on a large scale; however, the socio-economic costs of company closings are also extensive and become more important as this process progresses.
"And by comparison, the costs of performing diagnostics are getting lower once the manufacturing capacity and infrastructure for these tests have been increased," he added.

Critics

It should also be said that the figures on the coronavirus released by the German government have generated criticism beyond its borders, especially among some politicians in Italy.
Two European parliamentarians from the right-wing group Brothers in Italy sent a letter to the European Parliament asking if the Germans were "immune" to the coronavirus and demanding that a protocol be established for the count in the reporting of deaths by covid- 19.
"There is a suspicion that people in Germany are getting sick and dying from covid-19, but that the German authorities do not know or say so," the letter said.
To this, the Koch Institute told Ugobleno News that the counts meet all the standards established by the WHO.
"Even as soon as death from coronavirus is suspected, postmortem tests are also done," they said.
What most experts agree on is that in the coming days and weeks the death rate from the coronavirus may increase in Germany, as the pandemic progresses over time (those who die from the virus do so between two and three weeks after contracting it) and there are more infections among the older population.


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