Why Coronavirus Mortality Rate is Lower in Germany?


    Germany ranked 5th in terms of infected with SARS-CoV-2. However, the death rate from Coronavirus in Germany is much lower than in most of the countries affected by the virus.

    The world anti-leaders in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic – USA, Spain and Italy have more confirmed cases. Germany has more than 108,000 confirmed cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), just over 2,000 people died. So, Why Germany’s coronavirus death rate is so low?

    For comparison, in Italy more than 139,000 coronavirus cases were detected, while more than 17,000 patients have died. Spain, where the coronavirus claimed the lives of more than 15,000 people, has over 150,000 confirmed cases.

    Location Confirmed Cases Death Rate
    Bavaria 28,827 2.2%
    North Rhine-Westphalia 21,961 1.7%
    Baden-Wurttemberg 21,603 2.4%
    Lower Saxony 6,804 2.1%
    Hesse 5,242 1.9%
    Rhineland-Palatinate 4,336 1.2%
    Berlin 4,202 0.9%
    Hamburg 3,320 1.3%
    Saxony 3,261 1.6%
    Schleswig-Holstein 1,932 1.8%
    Saarland 1,693 1.4%
    Brandenburg 1,578 1.9%
    Thuringia 1,351 1.5%
    Saxony-Anhalt 1,075 1.5%
    Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 572 1.9%
    Bremen 445 2.5%
    Total Cases / Average Death Rate 108,202 1.73%

    How the Germans manage to control the spread of Coronavirus?

    First, German scientists developed a test for the new coronavirus before the outbreak. The first two victims of the virus in Germany became known on March 9. A 78-year-old man died in Heinsberg; an 89-year-old woman died in Essen. Both cities are located in North Rhine-Westphalia. At the time there were 484 cases of infection in this part of Germany. In total, German doctors diagnosed 1,112 people nationwide.

    On January 27, in Bavaria, a 33-year-old man was diagnosed with coronavirus. The man was an employee of Webasto. The patient had previously been in contact with his colleague from Shanghai. His parents had traveled to visit him from Wuhan, the city that became the focus of the spread of Covid-19. This is the world’s first recorded case of transmission between people who are not relatives, outside of China.

    The next day, January 28, coronavirus was detected in three other Webasto employees. Two days later, three more people affiliated with the company were diagnosed with coronavirus. By February 11, several more employees of the company, as well as some members of their families, became ill.

    Even before the virus had spread beyond China, German researchers began working on a new SARS-CoV-2 test. Already in mid-January, the Institute of Virology at the Charite Hospital in Berlin created the first test. Christian Drosten, who in 2003 was researching SARS, led the team of scientists who developed the test. Today, he is the country’s most authoritative person on pandemic issues.

    Coronavirus pandemic in Germany

    Unlike many of his colleagues, Dr. Drosten showed pessimism in assessing the risks of the coronavirus pandemic. He estimated that the virus will infect up to 70% of the German population. On the other hand, Drosten is positive about the steps the German leadership took so far.

    Drosten noted that Germany had early on introduced special measures to protect its citizens. There is no guarantee, however, that a new wave of infections will not change the situation for the worse.

    German doctors launched an efficient coronavirus detection from the very beginning. This is one of the reasons why many consider this a success story in terms of coronavirus control and prevention. At an early stage of the pandemic, laboratories conducted research and quickly determined the presence of coronavirus in patients. Doctors made operational decisions to isolate them.

    German diagnostic capabilities are much more efficient than in other countries, according to Dorsten.

    50,000 tests per day to control coronavirus lethality

    The Germans perform more than 50,000 SARS-2 tests each day. Experts consider Germany as the leading country in Europe in terms of testing. This is the main reason behind Germany’s low infection and loss of life.

    Additionally, health authorities conducts tests to determine whether a person has antibodies for coronavirus. The test indicates whether the body is familiar with this particular virus. Doctors can determine not only the presence (or absence) of the immune response, but also its strength. Immune response intensity is a good indicator of infection timing. A negative result, however, does not mean that a person is healthy, since he can still spread the virus.

    Britain performs only about 14,000 tests daily. The British government speaks of the need to increase testability to 100,000 per day. However, at present it has not been possible to even approach this figure.

    German scientists warn the government: in order to successfully fight the virus, more tests need to be done. Germany is now able to conduct 500,000 tests per week. To consolidate success and stop the spread, it is necessary to test a million people, scientists say. That is, to conduct 200,000 tests per day.

    Dr. Drosten mentioned complaints about slow coronavirus diagnosis and its inaccessibility in some parts of the country. More than ten health workers from different regions of Germany have confirmed that the number of tests is still insufficient.

    Healthcare system characteristics

    2,107 people died in Germany due to COVID-19. The average age was 82 years according to the Robert Koch Institute.

    Young people still rarely need emergency measures. When they do, its mainly due to chronic diseases such as, asthma, sarcoidosis, hormonal disorders or autoimmune problems. In this case, the coronavirus acts as a trigger.

    Other characteristics of the German health system contributed to the success in controlling the pandemic. First, Germany learned from other countries. The German authorities took measures in a timely manner. For example, clinics organised isolated areas for coronavirus patients at an early stage. Secondly, almost all patients in Germany have healthcare insurance and family doctors are highly accessible. In Italy, it is more difficult to reach a family doctor.

    Why Coronavirus Death Rate is Lower in Germany?

    Ofcourse, German discipline plays a major role in the outcomes. German citizens do everything that doctors advise them to. Indeed, the German measures are far from being the most stringent. Similar to other countries, people are not allowed to gather, schools and restaurants are closed. In certain parts of the country more stringent bans are applied. In general, however, people can leave home for a walk or to work. Similar measures are now in effect in Britain.

    Doctors believe that other factors also influence the final result. For example, an important problem in the healthcare system in some countries is the almost complete absence of preventive measures. Due to coronavirus, many people are likely to learn about their chronic diseases. Such diseases like asthma can develop for years until a person becomes completely ill. Germany tests adults over 35 years old every two or three years as a preventive measure. This information, helps doctors to act quickly and make decisions in case of infection with COVID-19.

    Doctors without protective equipment

    In Germany, as in other countries with large number of confirmed cases, there are shortages of protective equipment for doctors. For example, there is a limited number of masks, protective suits and disinfectants in some hospitals.

    The German Medical Association (GMA) distributes protective equipment. There is a priority to supply protective equipment to doctors which people primarily turn to. Family doctors, infectious disease specialists, pulmonologists and, clinics where there is a large flow of severe patients.

    In spite of the shortcomings, Germany continues to be a leader in Europe in many ways. The scientific journal Intensive Care Medicine estimates that Germany has the largest number of intensive care beds in Europe. 29.2 beds per 100 thousand people. In Italy there are only 12.5. In addition, in Germany there are about 25,000 ventilation devices. There are 8,175 such devices in Britain and 5,000 in Italy. Germany ordered another 10,000 ventilation machines, which they promise to produce in the near future.

    The danger from this virus is when it comes to the hospital, the nursing home or the hospice. Countries should protect the vulnerable population, by avoiding to spread the virus among them. For example, nursing homes staff are subject to regular testing.

    The virus is widespread in Germany. This is a good sign according to German experts. Mainly because despite the increase in the number of infected, clinics are still able to accept patients. That means the German health system has the highest levels of capacity.

    Why Germany is a success story?

    It’s true that Germany – at least for now – maintains a lower percentage than other countries. Scientists are still investigating the reasons behind these results. One possible explanation are the affected age groups. The virus almost did not affect older people in Germany, the disease spread among young people who returned from skiing. In addition, it is known that a considerable time passes before the condition of infected people is getting critical.

    Despite optimistic statistics, German doctors admit that the peak incidence rate in the country probably has not yet arrived. Therefore, hospitals continue to prepare. For example, they cancel planned operations, if possible, and expect a crisis by the end of April 2020.


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