What percentage of people die each day

Fact check: how deadly is the coronavirus really?

How can the current rise in the death rate be explained?

The curve of new corona infections has risen sharply in Germany since the beginning of October. Since mid-November - with daily swings up and down - there has been a sideways movement or a slight decline in the numbers, albeit at a high level.

Overall, significantly more people have been proven to be infected with the coronavirus in this country, the total number since the outbreak of the pandemic at the beginning of the year has exceeded the million mark. For weeks, experts have been warning that the cases with severe disease and those with fatal consequences will follow the rise in new infections with a delay. The head of the German Hospital Association, Gerald Gaß, said on November 2nd to "Bild": "In two to three weeks we will surpass the maximum number of intensive care patients from April."

He was right: Currently (as of November 26, 2020) there are 3826 COVID patients in intensive care in Germany, in April the peak was 2850. And the report by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) shows a clear trend: the proportion of vacant intensive care beds continues to shrink. For Ralf Krumkamp from the German Center for Infection Research, the increase in the number of deaths in Germany has become apparent: "The increasing number of deaths is delayed from the number of cases. The number of infections is currently increasing among those over 80. So it may well be that we are continuing to increase the number of deaths watch, "Krumkamp told DW. Studies have shown that older people statistically have a significantly higher risk of death when looking at COVID-19 illnesses. A study by the American Yale University found that the mortality of people over 64 is 62 times higher than that of people under 55.

Is the second corona wave in Germany worse than the first?

That depends on which numbers you use. Measured in terms of new infections, the second wave is significantly more serious than the first. During the first wave the values ​​climbed to a good 6,000 daily cases, during the second wave to a good 23,000 cases in some cases. However, you have to put these numbers in relation to the tests carried out: If, according to the RKI test statistics, around 300,000 to 400,000 corona tests per week were evaluated in Germany in the spring, it was recently between 1.2 and 1.7 million weekly tests. The number of unreported cases is likely to have been significantly higher in the spring.

When looking at the death toll, the picture is a little different. Here the development is only now reaching the maximum value of the first wave. It is true that on November 25th, 410 COVID-19 patients died in Germany, more than ever before within a day. But in the 14-day mean, the curve shows a similar course as during the first wave.

Is the mortality higher during the second wave than during the first?

No, the opposite has been the case so far. The proportion of people who died in the total number of cases is currently lower than in spring. For example, in mid-April 2020 the RKI registered a proportion of deceased of 6.98 percent (calendar week 16). At the end of October 2020, the value was 0.94 percent, which is significantly lower. According to the RKI, the mortality data for November are not yet meaningful because the outcome of the illnesses in these weeks is still unclear.

With regard to the proportion of deceased, however, it should also be taken into account that the reference value is the total number of recorded cases and that this is higher due to the increased test contingents. But even against this background, the proportion of those who died is lower than in the spring. This could also be due to the better protection of risk groups.

The fact that the absolute number of deceased (KW 44: 1045 deaths) is currently lower than in spring (KW 14: 2252) is a positive signal (the values ​​mark the highs of the first and second waves). "We have a value in the death rate that is easier to observe," says Ralf Krumkamp. "Mild courses are overlooked in the case numbers if you do not test consistently. The severe cases and deaths, on the other hand, are better recorded because they are clinically relevant."

Are more people dying than usual at the moment?

Yes, as in many other countries, more people will die in Germany in 2020 than in previous years. However, the data show completely different fluctuations in individual European countries. In Germany there were significantly fewer deaths than in other European countries. But here, too, the spread of the coronavirus has led to a recognizable excess mortality, i.e. the number of deaths that are in phases above the annual historical mean.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, more people died between the end of March and the beginning of May than in the same period in previous years; in the 15th calendar week (beginning of April) the deviation was 14 percent above the four-year average. Due to the increasing number of deaths in connection with the coronavirus, the mortality is currently slightly above the average of the past few years.

It cannot be derived from the figures that there was an unreported number of undetected corona cases for the months from March to May beyond the recorded corona deaths. For the second wave in autumn, the figures available so far are not sufficiently informative.

With a view to Europe, however, the trend becomes even clearer: According to the data from the European mortality monitoring (Euromomo) project, the recorded mortality rate on the continent in spring 2020 is far and currently well above the usual corridor.

A look at the statistics of 26 European countries reveals major differences: States such as Spain, France and Belgium show high excess mortality rates, while others such as Finland and Greece remain in their average corridor.

Our infographic with data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) also illustrates the different values ​​of proven corona deaths in the states. The answer to the question of whether more people are currently dying than usual varies greatly depending on the location.

  • Coronavirus AHA rules: How much distance can you please?

    But please keep a distance!

    These are the AHA rules as we know them: keep a distance of 1.5 to 2 meters (in Anglo-Saxon countries: 6 feet), observe hygiene and wear an everyday mask. But that does not do justice to the complex reality of how aerosols spread, wrote researchers from Oxford and London (UK) and Cambridge (USA) in an analysis published in the British Medical Journal at the end of August.

  • Coronavirus AHA rules: How much distance can you please?

    Like right now?

    British Prime Minister Johnson demonstrated the rules of distance in a classroom. But what does that mean exactly? Do you have to lie 1.50 meters between his fingertips and those of another potential human being? Actually that would be logical. But if a person measures 1.50 meters with two arm lengths, distances of a good 4.50 meters can quickly come together.

  • Coronavirus AHA rules: How much distance can you please?

    Or is it better to calculate in sheep's length?

    The Icelandic Sheep Breeders Association has set its own rules: two sheep lengths are appropriate to avoid infection. Whether the everyday mask is knitted from real sheep's wool? This young shepherd in Senegal sometimes pulls the animal's mutton legs long. Maybe he wants to find out how long a sheep is. The Icelanders already know: exactly one meter.

  • Coronavirus AHA rules: How much distance can you please?

    Natural spacers

    Of course it works like that too. The standard length of a dog leash corresponds almost exactly to the applicable Corona rules. Could it be a coincidence that in the English-speaking world a "six-foot leash" is usually required for places where a leash is compulsory?

  • Coronavirus AHA rules: How much distance can you please?

    Where does the 2 meter rule actually come from?

    The team of authors led by professor of fluid dynamics Lydia Bourouiba writes that the rule is out of date. The German physician C. Flügge recommended this distance in 1897. Visible droplets that he had caught in this area were still contagious. Another study from 1948 showed that 90 percent of coughed strep streptococci in droplets did not fly further than 1.70 meters.

  • Coronavirus AHA rules: How much distance can you please?

    Two meters is not enough

    The 1948 study appeared in the American Medical Journal. It also showed that 10 percent of streptococci flew much further: up to 2.90 meters. Under such circumstances, the people on this meadow on the banks of the Düsseldorf Rhine might be safe - if every second district remained free. But wait a minute! We are not concerned with streptococci (bacteria) but with viruses.

  • Coronavirus AHA rules: How much distance can you please?

    Viruses spread through aerosols

    Viruses are much smaller than bacteria and can therefore float around for hours and also spread better in the room air. The researchers therefore recommend not only making the distance between two people a safety criterion, but also other factors: the ventilation of the room, whether people wear masks, whether they are silent, speak softly, or sing and shout.

  • Coronavirus AHA rules: How much distance can you please?

    Just don't sing or cough

    Numerous recent studies also show that real virus packages can be thrown up to eight meters when coughing. Loud speaking or singing also swirls some aerosols and droplets into the room. If, however, you only speak softly, like in a library, and if people are still sitting in the fresh air, the distances can be shorter again.

  • Coronavirus AHA rules: How much distance can you please?

    How long do I stay in the room?

    The length of stay in the contaminated room and how many people are in it are also decisive for the risk assessment. The researchers have developed a traffic light model from all of these factors. The clear result: In rooms with many people, you should only stay briefly, ventilate well, wear an everyday mask and speak softly.

  • Coronavirus AHA rules: How much distance can you please?

    A minute is enough to become infected

    Even very short contacts can be enough to pass on SARS-CoV-2. The US health authority CDC had to tighten its rules on October 21. A prison guard had previously been infected from prisoners with whom he had never been in contact for more than a few minutes. From now on, "close contact" is: less than two meters, at least 15 minutes but cumulative - over 24 hours.

  • Coronavirus AHA rules: How much distance can you please?

    You can also do this without a mask

    Here, however, the traffic light of the British-American research team is green: Without a mask, it is only safe outside, even over a longer period of time, when there are few people around, everything is well ventilated and nobody speaks a lot. But will the 1.50 meters be enough?

    Author: Fabian Schmidt