“You can infer nothing”: a virologist Drosten criticizes Heinsberg-study

On Thursday, the virologist Hendrik Streeck in Düsseldorf, Germany presented the first results of the Heinsberg-study. Based on this, he and his colleagues hold a loosening of the measures is possible. In another event, experts practiced shortly thereafter, however, criticism of the investigation and asked to submit a manuscript.

The district of Heinsberg is considered to be the epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic, and has become the object of study. A research team led by the virologist Hendrick Streeck of the University of Bonn is trying examples of find out how you can slowly return to normal. Yesterday, the scientists have presented preliminary results.

In the point of view of the researchers, the municipality of Gangelt, the epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic, there is especially. In the place had been infected after a carnival session in mid-February, hundreds of citizens with the novel Virus. The Region has already had developments, which can be in other places still. This makes them an interesting object of study. Also, the curve of Infection flattens out here already.

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At 14 percent of the Investigated Corona is supposed to be infection has been proved

According to the findings of Streeck and his colleagues at around 15 percent of the surveyed citizens of Corona to be been proven-infection – in some cases with mild gradients, or completely without symptoms. These people would have developed an immunity. For comparison: On the day when the study was started, were counted in the district of Heinsberg, officially, only about 1250 of proven disease – with around 250,000 inhabitants.

The probability of dying from the disease, was the preliminary Figures show that 0.37 per cent, based on the total number of Infected. In Germany, currently of the American Johns Hopkins University calculated the corresponding Rate amounts to 1.98% and is five times higher, according to the researchers. The scientists stressed, however, that one could not expect, therefore, to automatically assume that the total number of Infected in Germany is five times higher than accepted. For this assessment it was still too early.


Based on their findings, the scientists consider the start of a loosening of the strict Coronavirus-measures for possible. Condition is that, for example, the Hygiene and other rules of conduct furthermore strictly were followed. Streeck said, “in a Phase two” to enter.

Drosten: Before you go to the General Public, should the results be, at least in manuscript

However, the joy might be premature. Because the study involved experts expressed a short time later, doubts as to the intermediate results and, above all, criticism of the presentation of the same.

“I have just listened to this press conference on Phoenix, and I can deduce nothing. Because it is not easy to explain so little, that one understands everything,“ said virologist Christian Drosten of the University hospital Charité in Berlin. He urged that scientific data of this kind would have to be in a scientific manuscript published. “Even if that is not yet reviewed, should be at least presented in manuscript Form with a summary, before you go in order to the General Public and also to policy-makers. Otherwise, this is a Situation like now, where you know nothing.“

A two-sided document, in which the study is roughly sketched, it is now found on the pages of the country NRW.

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Drosten: "There is no charge to members, only a Nachfrage"

It is not clear, apparently, whether the Test could ever prove the solely sure what to have found out the scientists now, as the “süddeutsche Zeitung” reported. Gérard Krause, an epidemiologist at the Helmholtz centre for infection research, according to which there is currently no widely available Tests that may immunity against the corona pathogen.

The so-called Elisa Test, which are currently already available, should prove only antibodies against the novel Coronavirus Sars-CoV-2, but also against other species of human corona viruses, such as those that can cause colds. According to the Helmholtz centre for infection research, was previously known as a corona virus causes a third of all colds.

If you test with a Elisa Test, then the Test could fail, according to Drosten also in humans is still positive, the endemic corona virus-induced common cold disease had. Therefore, you would have to confirm, according to Drosten such a result again with another virological Test in the laboratory.

Also, Gérard Krause was critical: “I see another Problem, which is perhaps almost quantitatively even stronger.” Krause is not showed then that he knew the study because they had not yet been published, but since it was a household study, suppose he is, “that all members have been tested from the budget. You can do so. But then you must take by no means all of the results and in percent conversion, but at most per household, only one Person can take,“ explains the expert. Because, since within a household, the risk of infection is higher than in the General population, might distort otherwise a result.

Streeck has commented on the criticism already

The "taz" has recently pointed out already to the criticism of Drosten at the Heinsberg-study, a “dispute” is spoken, and the fact that Drosten would have torn the results of the colleagues””. Of the Charité-virologist distanced himself on Twitter and wrote: “There is no reproach to the gentlemen, only a demand.” A discourse is important for the scientific opinion.

"Time Online" has already talked with Hendrik Streeck about the criticism. Streeck was convinced that the Test used could of course be qualified with a certain error tolerance between an infection with Sars-CoV-2, and other corona viruses. The manufacturer to give a specificity of more than 99 percent. False-positive results would therefore be less than one percent of the cases.

To said the criticism of Gérard Krause Streeck compared to "Time Online", that is actually not the budget way, but every single person counted had been. Further it says: "The study was 'with hot Nadel' been knitted."

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