Over the past few weeks there has been widespread curiosity about the German health care system. Since the coronavirus outbreak, the infection curve in Germany has risen just as steeply as in Italy, and the measures it has imposed are quite similar to those elsewhere. Yet, its death rate is noticeably lower. Covid-19, has hit Germany with force: According to John Hopkins University, the country had more than 122,215 laboratory-confirmed infections by 11-04-2020, more than any other country except the United States, Italy and Spain. But with 2.707 deaths, Germany's fatality rate stood at 1.6 percent, compared with 12 percent in Italy, around 10 percent in Spain, France and Britain, 4 percent in China and nearly 3 percent in the United States. Even South Korea, a model of flattening the curve, has a higher fatality rate, 1.8 percent. Compared to fatality rates above 12 per cent in neighboring France, Netherlands or Belgium, that seems remarkable.
The most important reason for Germany's rate is intense testing, using the South Korean model where widespread testing and isolation helped flatten the curve of new infections. The President of the Robert Koch Institute - Germany's public body in charge of the country's response to infectious diseases - said on 20 March that domestic laboratories were able to conduct as many as 160,000 tests per week. To put that number in comparison, Britain was able to carry out roughly around 10,000 tests per day in mid-March.
Germany did not reach its ceiling back then. The RKI now believes that its laboratories can produce up to 500,000 tests per week. According to a strategy paper by the German government, their goal is now 200,000 tests per day. How has Germany managed to test so many compared to others in Europe?
First of all, it had a head-start. Already, on 16 January, before the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that the novel coronavirus could be transmitted from one human to another, German scientists had created a test that proved to be one of the first reliable means of detecting the virus. That test was then rapidly produced and adopted by the WHO.
Since February, between 200 and 300 German laboratories have become involved in the rapid testing scheme. It is said that these institutes are among the fastest and most efficient in the world. While governments across the world are still trying to boost their ability to perform large numbers of tests, Germany had already developed a high-intensity testing scheme. And there is no end in sight. Bosch, the global technology company from Stuttgart, has assigned its medical engineers to develop a new diagnostic test that will be able to detect coronavirus in 2.5 hours.
Meanwhile Italy, France and Spain struggle to fight the corona virus. Germany thought to offer assistance to European neighbors in need. One of the officials from the Chancellors office says the virus is a global threat. We can only combat it successfully if we pool all our resources. Germany has admitted 198 seriously ill patients from other EU countries for treatment since the outbreak of the corona pandemic. Currently there are still commitments for 58 treatment places that have not been taken up, a spokesperson for the Foreign Office said in Berlin on Monday. He stated that 130 patients from France, 44 patients from Italy and 24 more from the Netherlands had been brought to Germany.
Ahead of an expected larger wave of home-grown infections that German authorities are preparing for, a first group of six Italian patients arrived at Leipzig airport in the eastern state of Saxony on Tuesday morning. The western state of North Rhine-Westphalia also announced plans to take 10 Italian patients over the coming days. "We need solidarity across borders in Europe," said state premier Armin Laschet. "We want to preserve the European spirit." Saxony premier Michael Kretschmer said the government in Italy, where confirmed cases of the virus have topped 64,000 and deaths risen above 6,000, had asked for help. Germany was the first country to take in Italian patients. Then Germany took 10 French patients requiring ventilation, and the state is checking with other hospitals for more spare beds in intensive care units; the crisis in the east of the country led the French army to transfer six patients in critical condition due to coronavirus to a military facility on Wednesday. The patients have been taken to Bonn, Cologne.
Brigitte Klinkert heads the local government of the Haut-Rhin administrative district in France. She issued a call for help late last week, rapidly receiving positive responses from local politicians in Germany. "To be honest, when I sent out those mails, I did wonder: 'Will I get an answer?' It was an extremely pleasant surprise when offers poured in," Klinkert admits. "Of course, we work very closely together and are great friends with many connections, but this was an incredible demonstration of cross-border cooperation - of European solidarity. In more normal times, our regions are completely interconnected. It's really emotional for us to see this chain of unity with Germany, Switzerland and the rest of France."
Marian Wendt, 34, who is on the committee for German-Italian cooperation in parliament says that while politicians in Saxony discussed the pros and cons at length, and recognized the logistical and political challenges, they quickly agreed that they should try to help. Germany thinks that all EU countries really must set up a meeting after this crisis is over, to talk about how they can continue to help each other medically in the future."
Meanwhile, Germany is not only helping EU countries with the medical help they delivered, but additionally with seven tons of medical equipment to transported to Italy, including ventilators and anesthetic masks, helping save lives.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday called for European nations to show more solidarity as they battle to contain the coronavirus outbreak. "We must look beyond the next border fence," Steinmeier exclaimed in a video. "The virus has no nationality, and suffering does not stop at borders." He praised German hospitals for treating Italian and French patients to ease the health burden in those countries, but added that he would like to see "more such concrete solidarity in the European spirit."
Germany will foot the bill for treating novel coronavirus patients taken in from European Union neighbor countries as a gesture of goodwill, Health Minister Jens Spahn said Monday (Apr 20).
Germany has been spared the worst of the coronavirus crisis seen in some of its hard-hit European neighbors, and has taken in patients - mainly from France and Italy - to relieve pressure on their overburdened healthcare systems.
A total of 229 foreign patients have been treated in Germany, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said Monday - 130 from France, 44 from Italy and 55 from the Netherlands.
Their treatment has so far cost about 20 million euros (US$21.7 million), according to Spahn.
"Germany will cover the treatment costs of these patients, that is what we understand by European solidarity," Spahn said ahead of a meeting of ministers tackling the virus crisis on Monday.
We can learn many things from this beautiful act of solidarity from EU countries, where the cross border relationship has been used appropriately. From this helping hand teaches us how humanity survived over time and people managed to make something beautiful even out of the pandemic situation. Also, how much effort and priority Germany placed on people's health. Even during this crisis situation, they still extended their hand to help. This could be a life-long lesson how together we can fight the battle and make a wonderful world we always dreamed of.