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How does Germany have relatively low coronavirus death rate?

How does Germany have relatively low coronavirus death rate?

Posted March. 24, 2020 07:55,   

Updated March. 24, 2020 07:55


With the number of COVID-19 related deaths reaching 15,000 worldwide, there are stark contrasts between countries in terms of fatality rates. Italy’s death rate from the virus stands at 9.3% while Germany has a much lower fatality rate of 0.4%. Experts attribute Germany’s low fatality rate to its great medical system.

Germany has the fifth highest number of cases of the novel coronavirus at 23,974 as of Monday, following China, Italy, the United States, and Spain, according to German health authorities and The Wall Street Journal. Germany’s fatality rate from the virus, however, is much lower than those of advanced countries, including Italy, France (4.2%), and the U.S (1.3%).

Health experts took note of the fact that those infected with COVID-19 in Germany are younger than those of other countries. The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s national Public Health Institute, said the median age of COVID-19 patients in Germany is 47, 16 years younger than Italy’s 63. Most of the Germans infected with the virus are reportedly those who visited festivals and winter camps held in Italy and Austria in February. The German doctors’ association said young COVID-19 patients with strong immune systems are less likely to die from the virus.

Aggressive testing is another factor. The German government is testing people even with mild symptoms if they visited high-risk areas, such as China and Italy. Germany is capable of performing 12,000 tests per day thanks to its advanced health care environment while other European countries can only conduct around 5,000 tests per day. Aggressive testing has helped early treatment of patients and confirmed many infections, which resulted in a relatively low fatality rate.

Germany’s solid health care system also contributed to saving more lives. Germany, along with the likes of France, Italy, and the U.K., has a health care system, where its citizens pay for health care or tax and benefit from public health service in return. But Germany spends a handsome amount of money on medical expenses compared to those countries, allowing much better health care infrastructure. According to a statistics by the European Union, Germany’s healthcare spending per person is 4,714 U.S. dollars, higher than 4,263 dollars of France, 3,958 dollars of the U.K., 2,738 dollars of Italy, and 2,389 dollars of Spain.

Some experts point out that Germany has a lower fatality rate from COVID-19 than other countries because it does not test the dead for.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com