by Ralph T. Niemeyer
German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday won sympathy even by her political opponents when apologising for considering to grant the hard working citizens an additional holiday on Thursday before Good Friday and by this extend the Easter holiday by one day to effectively 5 days. She told the public and also parliament that the idea was to use the holiday period to “break the third wave” of the “corona pandemic” by effectively ordering a nationwide curfew with also supermarkets being closed. The harsh Lockdown of all non essential businesses except for food retailers and pharmacies anyway lasts until 18th April. Now, with the infection rates going up since more testing is being conducted in the past two weeks in Germany, the chancellor saw no other way but to try to increase the measurements.
But, the underlying mathematical model used worldwide is based on false assumptions. A German student, Patrick Schönherr is studying mathematics and physics in the eighth semester and explains that his calculation was also easy for non-mathematicians to understand, because the mathematical basics were “material of the seventh grade”. It was crucial not only to determine the number of people tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The total number of tests must also be taken into account and the figures should be standardised accordingly. So you have to calculate how high the incidence would be if you were testing everywhere the same time.
In his calculations, Mr. Schönherr had first determined the test quotas in the distcrict “Berchtesgadener Land” south of Munich, Bavaria, and nationwide. Since the beginning of the year, 1.52 percent of the population in Germany has been tested, but in the Berchtesgadener Land district it was 2.85 percent. In the last week of February, the difference was even more serious: while 1.42 percent of the population in the Federal Republic of Germany was tested, in the Bavarian district it was 5.8 percent.
Afterwards, the student had looked at the respective proportion of positive tests and calculated how high the incidence would be if the same proportion of people – for example, 1.5 percent of the population – were tested everywhere. For the Berchtesgadener Land district, the consequences would be dramatic, because the incidence last week would not be 89, but 29, well below the red tape of 50 which are causing mandatory shutdowns, according to this calculation. The situation would therefore be “significantly better than the German average”.
Normally, according to Patrick Schönherr, opening steps would be the next logical consequence. If the test rate or the calculation of the incidence does not change, however, the county Berchtesgadener Land is not expected to be below an incidence of 50 in the near future. The student also explained that there are some problems with the calculation, because he uses the data of the national Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for the nationwide data on the test numbers and the positive rate. However, the authority itself points out that ‘the collection is based on the voluntary notification of the laboratories’. According to the RKI, multiple tests of individuals can also be present in the figures.
In addition, there are other sources of error, such as commuters from Austrian city of Salzburg or Traunstein, which can be tested in the Berchtesgadener Land district`s facilities and are included in the statistics. Negative tests in companies are also not included in the test figures. In addition, Mr. Schönherr believes that there are more and more negative results through rapid tests that are not included in the statistics. The test strategy must also be taken into account: if you test more people with symptoms, this leads to a higher positive rate.
After over a year now one would think that governments had learnt from the “pandemic” and would not continue to impose strict lockdown regimes that have proven not to be effective at all and rather revise their policies than increasing the dose of the obviously wrong medication that kills a lot of SMEs. For the latter, however, the German chancellor has not apologised, yet.