German coronavirus figures currently ‘unreliable’ – expert warns ‘waiting for a tsunami’
Statistics expert Gerd Antes has questioned the reliability of coronavirus figures in Germany and said the true spread and impact of the virus will not become clear until months down the line. Speaking to Germany’s Der Spiegel, statistics expert Gerd Antes said: “What matters is how the deaths are counted. In principle, every death associated with the virus is currently considered a corona death.
“The truth is far more complex because many of those who now die from the coronavirus might have died without the virus, but later.
“Let’s take a person who has a severe heart condition.
“If she now becomes infected with the coronavirus and dies, was it the heart disease that was fatal or the virus?
“Does someone die from or with the virus? This can hardly be divided apart.”
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The expert added that usually in hospitals a virus may contribute to a death, but for pathogens that are not as much in focus as COVID-19, it can be assumed that the underlying disease is more often recorded as the cause of death.
He added: “In geriatrics, there has been a demand for years to do more autopsies in order to precisely determine the causes of death.
“In the current tense situation, however, this is hardly likely to be implemented.
“We won’t be seeing the number of people who have died from the coronavirus this year until about eight months from the annual death statistics.
“The numbers currently available are completely unreliable.”
The expert was interviewed by German media and described the current apprehension in Europe’s largest economy as they fear that the weeks ahead may reveal how deadly the disease is.
He said: “We do not know how deadly the new coronavirus is compared to the flu and how much faster it spreads.
“If you want to describe it as a metaphor, we are waiting for a tsunami, but we don’t even know how high the wave will be.”
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The expert spoke of the tragedies unfolding in northern Italy and France, he said: “I see the human catastrophe, especially where the health system is no longer able to care for all sick people, for example in northern Italy or in Alsace in France.
“There is undoubtedly a problem.
“We see in these regions that health systems are overloaded because too many people are seriously ill at the same time.
“This distinguishes the corona outbreak from the annual, comparatively slowly spreading flu wave.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.
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