Number of people infected by COVID in Germany 10 times higher than expected?
The Heinsberg study was carried out by the German virologist Prof. Hendrick Streeck and his team and was published on May 4, 2020. Such a study with regard to COVID-19 infections has never been carried out in this form in the world. Using the example of the community of Heinsberg and its residents, individual cases of infection were examined and evaluated very intensively. The residents had been infected with COVID-19 at a carnival event.
The Heinsberg study suggests that 1.8 million people in Germany (Population 82 million) could already be infected with the coronavirus - the majority of them without symptoms. However, experts urge caution. Because whether a hotspot study can draw conclusions about the whole of Germany remains controversial.
The tranquil district of Heinsberg is one of the places in Germany that was the earliest and most severely affected by the corona virus. After a carnival session, SARS-CoV-2 spread rapidly in the population - the community of Gangelt with its approximately 12,000 inhabitants was particularly affected.
It was precisely this community that the virologist Hendrik Streeck from the University Hospital Bonn examined for a study to determine the exact degree of spread of the virus and the resulting deaths. On Monday, Streeck and his team published the first scientific manuscript of the controversial study. Six weeks after the outbreak of Corona, 919 residents of Gangelt from a total of 405 households were examined between March 30 and April 6. They were interviewed and tested for SARS-CoV-2 using a blood test and throat swab. As a result, 15 percent of the group of people examined had already had an infection. 22 percent of them had no symptoms at all. Children were somewhat underrepresented in the test group, older people somewhat overrepresented.
The study used the infections in the test group to calculate how many people should have been infected at the time in Gangelt. The difference to the number of actually reported cases results in an unreported figure, says Streeck. In the Gangelt case, it was a whopping five times the number of reported cases. According to Streeck and his team, the number of unreported cases for Germany as a whole can also be determined: If one assumes 6700 SARS-CoV-2-related deaths in the republic, the unreported number of infected people would be 1.8 million. So ten times higher than the 162,496 cases officially reported by the RKI (as of May 3, 2020).
The mortality rate determined by the study can in turn be calculated from this undisclosed figure. Since the number of deaths recorded with Covid-19 in Gangelt in the relevant period was only seven, Streeck and his team calculated an infection fatality rate (IFR) of just 0.37 percent - a relative one low rate.
“With our data, it is now possible for the first time to estimate very well how many people have been infected after an outbreak event. In our study, that was 15 percent for the community of Gangelt. Infection mortality (IFR) can be determined from the total number of all infected. For SARS-CoV-2, it is 0.37 percent for the outbreak in the community of Gangelt, ”said Streeck.
"To make model calculations of how the virus affects the population, we need parameters to improve the models," continued the virologist. Regarding mortality, Streeck pointed out that a range of 0.2 to 1.5 percent had previously been assumed, and the World Health Organization had even spoken of 3.4 percent. "With this study, we can now reduce this range to a much smaller error range," said the virologist.
Streeck also admitted that one had to be careful with estimates, of course. Nevertheless, he and his colleague and co-author Gunther Hartmann, head of the Institute for Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Pharmacology at the University Hospital Bonn, see the study as an important basis for further research: "The results can serve to further improve model calculations for the spreading behavior of the virus - So far the data basis has been comparatively uncertain, ”said Hartmann. The study also provides important information for research - such as the risk of infection depending on age, gender and previous illnesses, the higher severity of the disease under the special conditions of a massive infection event such as in Gangelt, or the risk of infection within families. As the study related to households, it was also shown that the risk of infection within a family or people living in the house is not as high as previously assumed. Instead of 100 percent, the risk of infection only increased to 43 percent with the increasing number of people in the household. Why this is not clear, according to Streeck.
In summary, it can be derived from the "Heinsberg Study" that:
• Every fifth infection (20 percent) was without symptoms. This means that people could have been infected without realizing it.
• Supposedly healthy people can carry the virus and infect others
• Most infections come from young children. Children transmit the virus e.g. on their parents or other family members. Conversely, this is rather not the case.
• People who live in a household do not necessarily get infected
• Participation in the carnival significantly increased the infection rate and also the symptoms of the infected
The current COVID data for Germany (Population 82 million) today (Johns Hopkins, May 4th 2020) are:
People infected with CoV-19: approximately 165,000
Confirmed deaths from COVID-19: 6700
Current reproduction number: 0.79
Number of people saved: 132,700
The new interesting results of the Heinsberg study by Prof. Streek for all of German, short:
Dark figure: 1.8 million COV infected people in Germany (Population 82 million)
Official people infected: approximately 165,000
The dark figure of infected people can bei 8 to 12 times higher than the official values.
Determinated Mortality rate: 0.37 percent (much lower than valuated from Johns Hopkins)