Is Germany oversteered

Seven-day incidences no longer comparable : Overload of the health authorities distorts corona numbers

Health authorities overloaded by the high number of corona cases are currently having difficulties in many places in fulfilling their reporting obligations to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and in reporting new infections in good time. This leads to distorted seven-day incidences, reports the Central Institute for Statutory Health Insurance (Zi) in a contribution to the discussion on Thursday. The regional comparability is no longer given.

The Zi suggests excluding the last days before the most recent known reporting date from the calculation and using other indicators to assess the current infection situation.

Distortions in the mapping of new infections from the past seven days are highly problematic because several current regulations and thus restrictions refer to this value, such as the rule that citizens may not move more than 15 kilometers from their district boundary with an incidence of more than 200.

The Zi therefore calls for the data reporting channel to be rapidly improved. In the past, there were repeated transmission breakdowns, which also had to do with outdated software in the public health service and partly manual reporting channels. If these difficulties cannot be resolved in the foreseeable future, the days before the report must be excluded so that incomplete reporting days do not distort the calculation.

"In the case of systematic reporting delays, as is the case with the current calculation method, we otherwise continue to run the risk that individual circles will appear in the statistics of the infection process with values ​​that are too low," said Zi CEO Dr. Dominik von Stillfried.

The example of Thuringia shows that a reporting rate of over 95 percent is possible even with very high incidences. Despite the very high number of cases, the districts managed to provide a complete picture of the pandemic in a timely manner. Despite the significantly lower number of cases in some cases, this is not the case everywhere, explained von Stillfried.

Another problem is that the number and rate of positive cases strongly depend on the test strategies of the respective federal states and municipalities; there is therefore no comparability with one another. In addition, the incidence is the only problematic indicator because, depending on the test strategy, a significant number of positive cases may go undetected.

Von Stillfried suggests including indicators such as the incidence in the risk groups or the utilization of intensive care units in the assessment.

Two thirds of the health authorities do not yet use SORMAS

There are also problems with the introduction of the SORMAS software. The abbreviation stands for the "Surveillance Outbreak Response Management & Analytics System". It is primarily intended to support the health authorities in tracking contact persons, symptom tracking and exchanging data with one another. According to the Federal Chancellery, only 71 health departments were equipped with SORMAS in November.

As of December 31, 2020, the SORMAS software from the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research in Braunschweig was set up and operational in 111 of the 375 health authorities in Germany. This emerges from an answer from BMG State Secretary Thomas Gebhart (CDU) to a written question from Green MP Maria Klein-Schmeink.

In addition, the Deputy Greens parliamentary group leader and spokeswoman for health policy wanted to know from the federal government how many of the health authorities in Germany were using DEMIS, the German electronic reporting and information system for infection protection from the Robert Koch Institute, at the end of the year. In response to this, Gebhart wrote: “As of December 31, 2020, all health authorities (375) were able to receive SARS-CoV-2 reports via DEMIS.

Since January 1, 2021, laboratories are obliged to transmit SARS-CoV-2 reports via DEMIS. "

Klein-Schmeink demands that all health authorities be connected to SORMAS as soon as possible. “Even if that means a feat of strength. With the current infection numbers, we can no longer afford Stone Age methods such as manual recording or typing in Excel tables for contact tracking, ”said the health politician. It is a mystery to her "how almost a year after the outbreak of the pandemic over two thirds of the offices still do not have the appropriate software". (gg / nag)

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