March 26, 2020

There is no reason to send the whole country into domestic quarantine

Charité expert Stefan Willich believes curfews are wrong. The health costs of isolation can also be enormous, he says
… a bit higher than influenza:
… approximately 0.3 to 0.4 percent of all infected patients die in Germany. SARS, or even Ebola, are moving in completely different dimensions.
The disease is dangerous especially for older people with chronic pre-existing conditions. This risk profile is different from influenza, which also puts children and pregnant women at risk.
… In Germany, most citizens seem to be behaving sensibly and, in my view, there is no reason to send the whole country into domestic quarantine now.
… With a complete lockdown, one directly or indirectly endangers the economic existence of many people… Unemployment could rise and precarious living conditions, as well as subsequent mental illnesses, could increase.
… Poverty is the most important social risk factor for disease incidence and higher mortality.
… health policies must also be weighed in their longer-term consequences.
… Consistent infection testing at the population level is particularly important, as in South Korea.
… I wonder why South Korea manages to test en masse and Germany does not
… Prolonged quarantine of elderly and chronically ill people can in turn lead to health damage and serious danger. I urge that solutions in the current situation should also consider the longer-term consequences.
… I find it very disappointing how badly the European idea works in health care
… There have been and there will be health disasters caused by viral threats over and over again.

Read the interview

Stefan Willich has been Director of the Institute of Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics at the Charité since 1995.

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