What are corona viruses?
Coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. They can infect humans as well as various animals, including birds and mammals. Coronaviruses cause various diseases in humans, from common colds to dangerous or even potentially fatal diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). In the past, serious diseases caused by coronaviruses such as SARS or MERS were less easily communicable than influenza, but they have nevertheless led to major outbreaks, sometimes in hospitals. There is always the possibility that viruses will change genetically. However, mutations do not automatically change the properties of the virus.
Why do the data on COVID-19 cases reported by the Robert-Koch-Institute Germany (RKI) and Johns Hopkins University differ in Germany?
The Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and the RKI obtain their data from different sources, so deviations are inevitable. The information provided by the JHU is based on continuous internet research, which takes various sources into account (e.g. authorities, media reports, social media). This means that these figures are quickly available, but only allow limited conclusions to be drawn about the development, since more detailed information on the cases is missing and the reporting of the sources of supply is not uniform.
For its analyzes (RKI dashboard, situation reports), the RKI only uses the official cases reported to the health authorities according to the Infection Protection Act (IfSG). Doctors and laboratories report information on medical diagnoses and pathogen evidence to the health authorities. They check the information, bring it together and supplement missing information with their own investigations. COVID-19 cases secured in this way are transmitted to the responsible state authorities and the RKI. It may take some time (reporting and transmission delays), but the data reported and transmitted according to the IfSG are of high quality. Important information about the cases (onset of illness, regional distribution, age, gender, symptoms, staff in medical facilities etc.) is included. The data help to identify trends. Information on the severity of the disease and possible risk factors can also be derived from the reported data.
It takes time to compile, validate and share the information, but it is imperative. Far-reaching decisions for infection protection need a solid, meaningful and quality-checked data basis
How are deaths recorded?
Statistics of the RKI count the COVID-19 deaths in which there is laboratory-confirmed evidence of SARS-CoV-2 (direct pathogen detection) and which have died in relation to this infection. The risk of dying from COVID-19 is higher in people with certain pre-existing conditions. It is therefore often difficult in practice to decide to what extent the SARS-CoV-2 infection has directly contributed to death. Both people who died directly from the disease ("died from") and people with previous illnesses who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 and for whom it cannot be conclusively proven what the cause of death was ("died with" ) are currently being recorded.
Are you immune after undergoing SARS-CoV-2 infection?
Experts currently believe that recovered patients have a low risk of developing COVID-19 a second time. Initial studies have shown that people who have had SARS-CoV-2 infection develop specific antibodies that can neutralize the virus in laboratory tests. However, it is still unclear how robustly and permanently this immune status is built up and whether there may be differences from person to person. Experience with other coronavirus diseases such as SARS and MERS suggests that an at least partial immune status could last up to three years. In order to be able to precisely assess this aspect for COVID-19 diseases, serological longitudinal studies are required that monitor the immune status of convalescents over a longer period of time.
How is an infection with SARS-CoV-2 detected in the laboratory?
The direct detection of the pathogen is decisive for the detection of an acute infection with the SARS-CoV-2. The virus genome is detected using highly sensitive, molecular test systems (real-time PCR). The pure test time is about 4 to 5 hours. The time between sampling and reporting of results can be one to two days, depending on the number of samples, the results can take significantly longer.
Robert-Koch-Institute Germany (RKI), Englisch and German Versions
Johns Hopkins CORONAVIRUS RESOURCE CENTER
Trackcorona • With maps, tables, simulation, data and more
University of Oxford
ECDC European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control • An agency of the European Union