The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the competency of the health care system worldwide and Germany has emerged as one of the best performing. Since the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, Germany has confirmed more than 164,000 cases of COVID-19. While the infection curve is steep, the mortality rate is significantly lower than other European countries, with Germany reporting more than 6,700 deaths.
Low mortality rate thanks to intensive testing
The mortality rate is around 4%, far lower than neighboring countries such as France which have confirmed around 130,000 cases and reported more than 24,500 deaths. Experts say the low mortality rate in Germany is the result of intensive testing, with domestic laboratories conducting up to 160,000 tests per week. In comparison, countries like the UK only do 10,000 tests per day. With access to more tests, Germany can identify COVID-19 carriers and prevent them from spreading the disease. Intensive testing also allows the German health care system to identify COVID-19 patients early and offer early treatment.
Germany mobilizes up to 300 laboratories
One of the main drivers behind German low mortality is the proactive development of tests for new coronaviruses. This was later adopted by WHO and distributed worldwide on a mass scale, but not before Germany had accumulated a large inventory of kits. Since February, up to 300 German laboratories have been assigned to produce tests, empowering Germany with the scope to carry out high-intensity testing.
The country built success with contracts with engineering and technology companies based in Germany Bosch. In just six weeks, the company’s medical engineer developed a rapid and automatic molecular diagnostic test to detect COVID-19 in just 2.5 hours.
“The special feature of the Bosch test is that it offers a differential diagnosis, which saves the additional time doctors need for further tests,” said president of Bosch Healthcare Solutions GmbH, Marc Meier. “This also gives them a reliable diagnosis quickly so they can then start the appropriate treatment more quickly.”
Activating ‘epidemic strategies’
The capacity to mobilize large-scale German laboratories is thanks to existing ‘epidemic strategies’ that outline costs and funding. This enables Germany to produce kits quickly and test up to 160,000 people per week. The German health insurance system is also commended, with every citizen enjoying unlimited access to medical facilities and care. While Germany has not eradicated the corona virus, it has won praise for its fast and efficient reaction to the pandemic.
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