Germany’s COVID-19 expert: ‘For many, I’m the evil guy crippling the economy’ (Interview)

 Christian Drosten: ‘Herd immunity is not the whole story.’
Reuters/The Guardian

Date of Publication: April 26, 2020

Source: The Guardian

Currently, ICUs in Germany are half empty. There is political and economic pressure to return to normal. Christian Drosten directs the Institute of Virology at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, and is concerned about a second wave of COVID-19 as lockdown is lifted starting Monday. A group of modellers in Germany suggest prolonging lockdown for another few weeks could really suppress virus circulation. However, these estimates do not identify pockets of high prevalence, like senior citizens’ homes, where it will take longer to eradicate. Drosten explains resurgence in numbers could be contained, but it would require electronic contact-tracing to catch potentially exposed individuals – given evidence that suggests people are infectious two days prior to displaying symptoms. Although not fully in place yet in Germany, he thinks targeted testing for people who are really vulnerable (e.g. staff in hospitals and care homes) and patients in the first week of symptoms would be the best approach. He also suggests a sentinel surveillance system that samples the population regularly and follows changes in the reproduction number is needed.

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Summary by: Jayoti Rana