What Germany has done well in the fight against the coronavirus


Many in the UK watched with envy this week as Germany began lifting some of its coronavirus lockdowns and stores have reopened across the country. Car dealerships and furniture stores resume operations. Even the two Berlin zoos are slated to reopen by the end of this month.

If it remains to be seen whether the German authorities have done the right thing or acted too soon to ease the pressure, it is clear that the country has done better than most of its European neighbors to fight the virus so far.

Germany has one of the lowest death rates in the world, with 4,869 deaths for 147,593 infections detected, according to Johns Hopkins University in the United States. This is a case fatality rate of just over 3%, compared to around 13% in the United Kingdom, France and Italy.

In addition, German scientists announced last week that they have successfully reduced the reproductive factor – the number of people per person infected with the virus – to less than 1 for the first time.

Whatever happens next, Germany is as close to a successful coronavirus story as Europe. The story of this success comes down to three things: preparation, a decentralized system that allows doctors to make calls, and a generous slice of luck.

Intensive care beds

Germany was better prepared for the coronavirus than anywhere else in Europe for one essential reason: it had more intensive care beds.

At the start of the epidemic, Germany had 28,000 intensive care beds, far more than any other European country. The United Kingdom had only 4,000. In relation to the size of its population, Germany had 29.2 intensive care beds per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 12.5 in Italy, 11.6 in France and only 6.6 in the UK.

And since the start of the crisis, Germany has increased its total number of intensive care beds to 40,000, which means that its healthcare system has never been overloaded.

“One thing that Germany has done well is to increase intensive care beds,” said Professor Alexander Kekule, a leading German epidemiologist and virologist. “As we have seen in Italy, it is when the intensive care units are full that the death rate really starts to increase. “


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