- In the first wave, Germany suffered a relatively low death toll compared to its European neighbors, while taking less stringent measures.
- Good management that the country clearly cannot reproduce during this winter wave: Germany seems overwhelmed by the coronavirus.
- Why such a failure coming from a country which was cited as a model?
Undoubtedly, during the first wave of the coronavirus, Germany was the good student in Europe, with a number of deaths per million inhabitants amounting to 118.6 dead, against 658.9 in the United Kingdom, 605, 9 in Italy or 502 in France. But a first good management does not prevent being overtaken by a second rebound, and this is what the Germanic country painfully learns during these winter months.
Germany seems today to become the bad pupil of this second wave. After admitting that the epidemic was “out of control”, the government decreed partial containment from this Wednesday until January 10 with the closure announced this Sunday by Chancellor Angela Merkel of “non-essential” businesses . In question, extremely bad figures. The number of new daily infections approached the 30,000 threshold on Friday and then Saturday, far from the records of the first wave. This Thursday, Germany saw a record number of deaths, with 598 dead. Compared to the million inhabitants, Germany now has 269 deaths from Covid, a “development” much faster than all these neighbors. The incidence rate is 170 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, against 120 for France. 20 Minutes takes stock of the situation across the Rhine.
How to explain such bad figures?
How could Germany end up with such catastrophic figures? For Antoine Flahault, epidemiologist and director of the Institute of Global Health at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Geneva, the explanation is simple: “Germany did not take sufficient and strong enough measures in time. . Unlike the first wave, the Germans procrastinated, waited too long, and half measures did not work. “
Some partial curfews here and there and restrictions on grouping of people will not have succeeded in breaking this second wave. Germany will thus have experienced a high plateau from November 4, succeeding in stopping the exponential curve but not in lowering the cases, before experiencing a new outbreak in recent days. “But even being on a peak plateau, it is a situation far from enviable, even if the cases did not increase any more, the deaths and the hospitalizations were numerous every day”, describes Antoine Flahault.
Towards excess confidence?
Why then have you waited so long? Somehow Germany fell victim to its success in the first wave. Antoine Flahault reminds us, absolutely all the countries of Europe took less strict measures during this second peak than during the first: confinement is lightened in France, schools remained open in Ireland, etc., due to a population tried and tired of trying. In fact, Germany, which had already taken smaller measures during the first wave (no strict containment in particular) took even lower measures during the second. Except that by dint of always doing in the least restrictive, it ends up having no more effects on the number of cases.
Did the Germans also err on the side of overconfidence as a result of their good management of the spring? “It is possible, recognizes the epidemiologist. However, all countries initially bet that barrier gestures, masks and better knowledge of the virus would be enough to contain it. The famous “learning to live with the virus”. Germany would just have been wrong to believe it a little longer than the others. Perhaps also due to a lag compared to other countries. “The second wave arrived later in Germany than in France or in other countries, which could maintain the illusion that the country was managing and would know how to contain it,” continues Antoine Flahault.
But then who becomes the good European student, if it is no longer Germany?
Now, the new European model appears to be Irish, the first country in Europe to be reconfigured in October. An example not so much for the strict confinement (excluding open schools) put in place as for the speed at which it was decided. The equation remains the same everywhere, the earlier we act and with a low incidence of the virus, the faster and more effective the effects. Antoine Flahault: “In democratic countries, you have to have the support of the population to take strong restrictive measures. Perhaps after this second wave, all of Europe will understand that it is necessary to act as soon as the situation improves a little, and not when it degenerates completely ”. Today Ireland will have an “almost” normal end of year vacation, which was the bet – successful – to confine this early in October.
Can Germany become an example again? Unlike other European countries, the nation has decided to close schools. For Antoine Flahault, this can be decisive in the fall of the epidemic. However, it will be difficult to compare this choice and its impact with the strategy of its neighbors, since the European schools will close at least two weeks because of the end of year holidays. Impossible to decide on the German decision.