Europe may already be close to collective immunity to the coronavirus, with many more people infected than previously thought, according to a study in Germany.
Scientists studying Gangelt, the city at the center of the first major German epidemic dubbed “German Wuhan”, have found that up to 15% of people may have already been infected with the virus and acquired immunity.
They said yesterday they found antibodies to the virus in people who had no symptoms of coronavirus, which raised hopes that the spread would slow down.
If 15% of people have antibodies, the actual death rate in Germany could be as low as 0.37%.
It’s five times lower than the current level.
Professor Hendrik Streeck estimates more people in Europe may have immunity to coronaviruses than previously thought
Professor Hendrik Streeck, the study’s virologist, said at a press conference: “This means that a gradual relaxation of the lock is now possible. “
However, Angela Merkel has already warned that the country “must not be reckless”.
Professor Streeck’s study near the Dutch border is the first in Europe to examine the impact of the virus on an entire community.
It involves scientists from the University of Bonn testing 1,000 people from 400 Gangelt households for antibodies.
Their first results, after about half of the tests, revealed that 2% of the inhabitants were currently infected and 14% had antibodies to the virus.
This means that up to 15% of the city’s residents could benefit from immunity, with previous estimates putting this at 5%.
Study member Professor Gunther Hartmann said: “The 15% is not that far from the 60% we need for collective immunity.
A mobile testing station for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is pictured in the town of Gangelt in the local district of North Rhine-Westphalia in Heinsberg in March
“With 60 to 70% collective immunity, the virus will completely disappear from the population. Then the elderly are no longer at risk. “
Scientists are confident that their results could be close to real numbers because they have been able to identify as many previously unknown cases of people with the virus.
German military to donate 60 fans to UK – and won’t charge
The German military will donate 60 mobile fans to the NHS in the fight against coronaviruses.
The donation comes after the UK called for help to ensure that the NHS is well equipped for the expected peak of the pandemic in mid-April.
The German Defense Ministry confirmed the donations and announced that it would send 60 pieces of rescue equipment as soon as possible.
Due to the UK’s desperation, the German ministry said it would not charge fans in the UK.
They are produced by two specialized German manufacturers, Dräger and Weinmann.
An immunity rate of 15% is already enough to slow the spread of the virus considerably, they added.
However, they admitted that all governments must collect more data because the world still does not know enough about the virus.
Last week, research by Professor Streeck showed that the home of an infected family did not contain “any virus living on any surface,” which raises even more questions about how the virus spreads. ‘one person to another.
Professor Streeck said the virus was not even found on the doorknobs or fur of the animals.
He pointed out that there were still unknowns about how it actually spreads.
Meanwhile, other German scientists studying the pandemic have revealed that tens of millions of people may have already caught the coronavirus.
Two researchers from the University of Göttingen said that countries had identified on average only 6% of all COVID-19 cases.
But the team also said the rate was even lower in the UK, at just 1.2% – suggesting that the true scale of the epidemic could reach 5 million.
Rates – which the researchers said were accurate until March 31 – were also incredibly low in Italy (3.5%), Spain (1.7%) and the United States (1.6%).
Latest figures from John Hopkins University show that more than 90,000 people have died from Covid-19. The meter uses a real-time tracker and is treated as the most comprehensive summary of coronavirus statistics
Because of the huge disparity, they described the official counts trotted every day by health ministers around the world as “rather meaningless”.
Earlier, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, admitted that a third of people around the world who had had a coronavirus may not have had any symptoms.
These are people who can act as “carriers” because they spread the virus without knowing they have it.
Self-isolation cannot be used for them as they show no telltale signs like a cough or fever.
However, Sir Patrick said the percentage of people infected in different countries appears to be “single digit” according to initial reports.
This could mean that only a small proportion of people in the UK have already had the virus and are potentially immune to it.