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HEALTH

Germany ranked ‘second safest country in the world’ during coronavirus pandemic

Where are people best protected from Covid-19? According to a new ranking, Germany is currently the second safest country in the world to be in during the coronavirus crisis.

Germany ranked 'second safest country in the world' during coronavirus pandemic
People cycling in Berlin on Monday. Photo: DPA

Across the world, people are fearing for their health and facing massive financial worries and upheaval as the coronavirus pandemic causes havoc.

But those who live in Germany are comparatively well positioned, new research has found. According to a ranking by the London Deep Knowledge Group (DKG), Germany is currently the safest and most stable country in Europe – and the second safest in the world.

Only Israel, which is currently in the top spot of the ranking, is managing the crisis better, according to the country comparison by DKG and reported on by German magazine Spiegel.

As of Tuesday morning April 14th, there were more than 130,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. 

Of the total, around 64,300 people have reported themselves to have fully recovered from the virus while more than 3,100 people have died.

Data analysts from DKG collected information on when initial restrictions to stem the spread of coronavirus were introduced in countries, whether there have been many violations, the extent of travel restrictions, the availability of Covid-19 tests and how well hospitals are equipped.

In the ranking, Germany scores particularly well in the government crisis management section. In this area the focus is on how well crisis staff function and the mobilisation of rapid assistance.

Behind Germany, Switzerland (ranked number 11) and Austria (ranked number 12) have the most successful crisis management in Europe.

In a global comparison of a total of 40 countries – leaving Africa and South America out of the equation – eastern and central European countries such as Latvia, Slovakia and Slovenia are at the bottom of the list.

Screenshot: Deep Knowledge Group

Germany has been 'extremely efficient'

In a ranking of over a hundred countries, which the think tank is currently still working on, the US is 70th on the list. Meanwhile, South Korea, Australia and China among the world's top 10 countries, just behind Israel and Germany.

“Compared to other countries, Germany currently has the best safety and stability ranking in Europe and is also one of the leading nations worldwide in terms of crisis management,” said data expert Dimitry Kaminsky, founder of DKG.

“Given its initially high infection rates, Germany has been extremely efficient and has successfully stopped the spread of the disease without reaching the level of other countries – this will give Germany considerable economic advantages after the pandemic.”

The DKG think tank uses public data sources such as the World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins University for its rankings, feeding an algorithm.

Other data analysts also praised the German government.

“Germany is doing really well as a country with a high population,” said Anastassia Lauterbach, AI and data expert and board member.

“The fact that Israel is in the lead is not surprising when you consider that the country is in a permanent state of crisis and has a great deal of experience with border closures and states of emergency.”

Lauterbach considers the ranking to be meaningful due to its high data density. “However, the ranking is only a snapshot because the data is constantly updated,” said Lauterbach.

That means if Germany makes the wrong decisions in future, it could slip down the rating scale.

Vocabulary

Country comparison – (der) Ländervergleich

Well-positioned – gut aufgestellt

The safest and most stable country in Europe – das sicherste und stabilste Land in Europa

Snapshot – (die) Momentaufnahme

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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COVID-19

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany. 

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