How Germany Has Led the Way on COVID-19 Testing
May 02 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the competency of healthcare systems around the world and Germany has emerged as one of the top performers. Since the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic by the world Health Organisation (WHO) on March 11, Germany has confirmed more than 164,000 cases of COVID-19. While the infection curve was steep the death rate has been significantly lower than other European countries, with Germany reporting just over 6700 fatalities.
Low death rate thanks to intense testing
The death rate is around 4%, significantly lower than neighbouring countries such as France which has confirmed around 130,000 cases and reported more than 24,500 deaths. Experts say the low death rates in Germany are a result of intense testing, with domestic laboratories conducting up to 160,000 tests per week. In comparisons, countries like Britain carry out just 10,000 tests per day. With access to more tests Germany can identify COVID-19 carriers and prevent them from spreading the disease. Intense testing also allows the German healthcare system to identify COVID-19 patients earlier and offer early treatment.
Germany mobilises up to 300 laboratories
One of the key drivers behind Germany's low death rate is the proactive development of a test for the novel coronavirus. It was later adopted by the WHO and distributed around the world on a mass scale, but not before Germany had already accumulated a large stockpile of kits. Since February, up to 300 German laboratories have been commissioned to manufacture the tests, empowering Germany with the scope to carry out high-intensity testing.
The country built on its success with a contract with German-based engineering and technology company Bosch. In just six weeks, the company's medical engineers developed a rapid, fully automated molecular diagnostic test to detect COVID-19 in just 2.5 hours.
"The special feature of the Bosch test is that it offers differential diagnosis, which saves doctors the additional time needed for further tests," says president of Bosch Healthcare Solutions GmbH, Marc Meier. "It also provides them with a reliable diagnosis quickly so they can then begin suitable treatment faster."
Activating the 'epidemic strategy'
The capacity to mobilise German laboratories on such a large scale was thanks to a pre-existing 'epidemic strategy' outlining costs and funding. This allowed Germany to rapidly manufacture kits and test up to 160,000 people per week. Germany's health insurance system has also won praise, with every citizen enjoying unrestricted access to medical facilities and treatment. While Germany has not eradicated the coronavirus, the country has won praise for its swift and efficient reaction to the pandemic.
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