Corona death rate significantly lower - First results from the Heinsberg study

Corona death rate significantly lower - First results from the Heinsberg study

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Virologist Streeck: "Previous measures were correct!"

The state government in North Rhine-Westphalia is accepting the first interim results of the Heinsberg study on the coronavirus. The unique project is being led by a team led by the renowned virologist Professor Dr. Hendrik Streeck performed. The first results of the study show that the existing measures for containment were correct.

In the research project "Covid-19 Case Cluster Study" of the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia, data on the coronavirus are collected and measures are checked. The special thing about the project is that it takes place directly in Heinsberg, the German epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic. In this way, important knowledge about the transmission paths should be collected under real conditions. The first results of the study have now been handed over to Prime Minister Armin Laschet.

A road map from the Corona crisis

"In addition to understanding the routes of infection and further curbing the spread of the corona virus, it is also crucial to find a way out of the crisis," emphasized Laschet in a press release on the first interim results. In order to create a roadmap from the crisis, it is important to have more scientifically based knowledge and facts. Professor Streeck provides such data in his research project in Heinsberg. Now there are the first important interim results.

Streeck: "The virus should be taken seriously."

Head of Research Professor Dr. Hendrik Streeck, who is also director of the Institute of Virology at the University Clinic in Bonn, emphasizes that the virus should be taken seriously and that the measures taken so far have been correct to curb the spread. "We have to learn to live with SARS-2 and to correctly classify the dangers," explains the virologist.

With his team of 80 medical assistants, doctors and scientists, Streeck continually interviews citizens there in order to identify possible causal chains with previous illnesses and to derive recommendations for prevention for the entire German and European population.

Heinsberg district has just escaped a catastrophe

"We were extremely lucky in disaster," says district administrator of the Heinsberg district, Stephan Pusch. If one had not reacted so early, it would have been a catastrophe with many deaths for the district of Heinsberg.

The preliminary results

The results of the Heinsberg study so far show that around 14 percent of the Heinsberg district has an existing immunity to SARS-Cov-2. Two percent of the people tested in Heinsberg had an acute infection. Overall, around 15 percent of the entire district was and is infected. In the community of Gangelt, the death rate among those infected was 0.37 percent.

Death rate lower than previously thought

Taking into account the asymptomatic courses in Gangelt, the researchers calculated a mortality rate of 0.15 percent, based on the total population in Gangelt. Johns Hopkins University currently speaks of a calculated lethality of 1.98 percent. According to the research team, this deviation can be explained by the different reference values ​​of the infected. In Gangelt, all infected people were sampled, including those with asymptomatic and mild courses. In this way the mortality could be depicted more realistically.

Hygiene measures keep mortality low

The researchers also showed that adherence to stringent hygiene measures can reduce the virus concentrations in the event of an infection to such an extent that the severity of the disease is reduced. At the same time, however, this leads to the development of immunity. It can be expected that the measures taken have had a positive impact on overall mortality.

Such measures could not be adhered to at so-called "superspreading events", ie extraordinary outbreak events such as carnivals, parties, discos, concerts, soccer, etc.

The four phases of normalization

The research team led by Professor Dr. Streeck expressly recommends following the four-phase strategy of the German Society for Hospital Hygiene (DGKH). This is based on the following model:

  • Phase 1: Social quarantine with the aim of containing and slowing down the pandemic and avoiding an overload of the critical care structures, in particular the health care system (current phase).
  • Phase 2: Beginning withdrawal of the quarantine while ensuring hygienic framework conditions and behavior.
  • Phase 3: Removal of the quarantine while maintaining the hygienic framework.
  • Phase 4: State of public life as before the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information on how to exit the crisis, see the article: Corona: Plan to Return to Normal Submitted.

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Prof. Dr. Hendrik Streeck, u.a .: Preliminary results and conclusions of the COVID-19 case cluster study (Gangelt municipality) (published: 09.04.2020),
  • State government of North Rhine-Westphalia: Handover of the first results of the research project "Covid-19 Case Cluster Study" to the state government (published: April 9th, 2020),
  • German Society for Hospital Hygiene: Assessment of the situation of the German Society for Hospital Hygiene (DGKH) (as of March 30, 2020),

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