Corona numbers are no longer meaningful? You want RKI to restrict reporting

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is restricting its reporting on the current number of coronavirus cases. She no longer wanted to publish her own report on the latest numbers on Sunday and Monday. Because there are fewer tests, lab diagnoses, reports and dispatches on the weekend, the significance of these numbers is limited, the institute wrote on its website.

Read more after the announcement

Read more after the announcement

Fewer and fewer health authorities and federal states may move numbers on weekends, also because it follows that there are “no direct consequences at the state or federal level.” In any case, the course can be better evaluated using the weekly comparison, and the Institute will continue to assess the epidemiological situation in its weekly report every Thursday. By the way, the number of cases reported for the weekend can still be read from the RKI dashboard – but it is incomplete.

The shortcomings of corona data are not new

As the situation is increasingly deteriorating, the RKI also revised its risk assessment last week: it rated the overall risk of Covid-19 to the health of the population in Germany as “high” and no longer “very high”. , as in previous months. According to the logic, the ratio of serious illnesses and deaths is no longer as high as it was in the first four waves of the Covid-19 pandemic. So it seems that the health authorities and the RKI are attaching less importance to the transmission of daily data. However, there have been frequent shortcomings in data collection and assessment during a pandemic, even during larger waves of infection.

Read more after the announcement

Read more after the announcement

First of all, there was always an irregular transfer of numbers, which led to data falsification not only on weekends, but also during holidays or public holidays. Around Christmas 2021 and the beginning of the year, there was a great deal of uncertainty about the course of the pandemic. For a good three weeks, it wasn’t clear whether the recorded data matched reality because fewer people had tested themselves and authorities sent out even fewer.

Errors in vaccination monitoring

In addition, the significance of the numbers reported by the RKI has always been poor due to the fact that the test rate fluctuates. The RKI also shows how high the percentage of positive tests is. This can be an indication of how much the actual incidence deviates from the recorded number of cases – but it is not easy to explain to ordinary people.

There has also been a breakdown in vaccination surveillance: Last fall, the RKI announced that 3.5 million more people may have been vaccinated than was officially recorded. However, the institute explained at the time that this was not due to any omission by the RKI, but was due to a failure to inform vaccination centers, vaccination teams and physicians.

Read more after the announcement

Read more after the announcement

On the other hand, the number of “real” Corona patients in hospitals has been exceeded. As Bild reported in January, during last winter’s Omicron wave, RKI recorded a large proportion of people as corona patients who were treated in hospital for completely different symptoms and only tested positive there when the result became an accident. In Saarland, only one in four officially reported patients with corona is said to have actually been in hospital due to Covid-19, in Rhineland-Palatinate less than every second.

The data situation has also been repeatedly distorted when it comes to hospital occupancy by vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Last year, the RKI had been counting Corona patients as “not immunized” for months if their vaccination status was not known, as reported by “Correction” among other things. This was very important for the validity of the data – the RKI reported in the fall that the vaccination status of about 20 percent of those admitted to hospital was unknown.

Representative studies are not available

Such errors in data collection are also problematic because all calculations are based on them: they were not used to assess the course of infection, but also to calculate the effectiveness of vaccination. They have been used to justify measures such as school closures or 2G or 3G rules.

Read more after the announcement

Read more after the announcement

A few weeks ago, a virologist in Bonn, Hendrik Streeck, criticized the German system of data collection. Unlike Germany, other countries will conduct representative studies using random samples from the population. Using a method similar to that used in opinion polls, it will be possible not only to determine the true proportion of those who were vaccinated and recover, but also, for example, which occupations were particularly susceptible to infection and which were not. .

According to Strick, such a method is more suitable for determining “true incidence”, regardless of test frequency. With such data, you can “take more targeted action against the epidemic than just restrict everything because you don’t know any better,” the virologist told the German editorial network. Epidemiologist Hajo Zeb of the Bremen Leibniz Institute for Research in Prevention and Epidemiology also complained that there were no representative studies in Germany, while there are, for example, in Great Britain.

It is also possible that the lack of representative data will make the planned evaluation of the benefits and harms of corona measures more difficult, because not all information can be reliably collected then. There were already discussions about the evaluation’s chances of success anyway: Christian Drosten, chief virologist at the Berlin Charité, left the expert council for the evaluation a few days ago, arguing that it would take at least a year for a reliable evaluation. . On the other hand, the government that formed the committee is seeking results within a few months.

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