Coronavirus

Corona reproduction number has risen above 1 again – that means it

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  • The number of reproductions has exceeded a critical value.
  • The number indicates how many more people are infected on average by an infected person.
  • According to the Robert Koch Institute on Saturday, the figure was 1.10 (data as of May 9 at midnight) – in order to abate the epidemic, the number had to be below 1.

With the so-called reproductive number, one of the decisive values ​​for the infection process in Germany has recently risen – and has exceeded a critical value. The number indicates how many more people are infected on average by an infected person. According to the Robert Koch Institute on Saturday, the value was 1.10 (data status May 9 at midnight). The RKI has repeatedly emphasized that in order to let the epidemic subside, the number of reproductions must be below 1.

At the beginning of May, according to RKI information, the value was between 0.7 and 0.8 over several days. On Wednesday, the RKI gave the value at 0.65 (data status May 6, 00:00), since then it has risen continuously. How to read and interpret this development is anything but trivial.

Value refers to infections that occurred a certain time ago

First of all, you have to know that the indication that an infected person infects 1.10 more people on average does not reflect the current situation. For methodological reasons, the value refers to infections that occurred a certain time ago. One cannot, therefore, read any possible effects in the course of infection, which can be attributed to the loosening of restrictions on Wednesday by the federal and state governments.

In addition, the RKI emphasizes in a statement on the increased number of reproductions that the R value is always subject to a certain degree of uncertainty. Due to the statistical fluctuations, which would be reinforced by the overall lower numbers, it cannot yet be assessed whether the falling trend of new infections has continued over the past few weeks – or whether the number of cases has increased again. “The increase in the estimated R-value makes it necessary to watch the development very carefully over the next few days,” writes the RKI.

Reproduction number depends on many factors

The number of reproductions cannot be used alone as a “measure of effectiveness / necessity of measures”, the RKI writes on its website. The absolute number of new infections every day and the severity of the diseases are also important. The absolute number of new infections must be small enough to enable effective follow-up of contact persons and not to overload the capacities of intensive care beds. According to an RKI overview, the number of reported new infections per day has been falling with fluctuations since the beginning of April.

Dirk Brockmann, an expert in modeling infectious diseases at the Humboldt University in Berlin, also emphasizes that the R value is only a rough estimate and depends on many factors. Nevertheless, a hypothesis can be derived from the increase from 0.65 to 1.10. Brockmann assumes that this is reflected in the fact that people have slowly returned to normality before the easing measures decided on Wednesday. You meet again a bit more and generally travel more. That leads to more contagions, according to the thesis.

In general, the development of the infection must be observed over a longer period. On the whole, the R-value still oscillates around 1, says Brockmann.

By Valentin Frimmer, dpa

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