Corona pandemic: Is the seven-day incidence no longer useful as a measurement?

The German “federal emergency brake” is expiring but could be reactivated at any time, says Chancellor Merkel. The measures are linked to seven-day incidence. But this value is increasingly controversial.

The emergency brake is linked to the seven-day incidence. In response to an inquiry from, the Federal Ministry of Health stated that this value “continues to represent the most suitable mechanism for ensuring that measures to be taken can take effect in a timely, targeted, legally secure and proportionate manner. It must be taken into account that there is a correlation between the seven-day incidence and other factors relevant for the assessment of the pandemic, so that the incidence value also reflects these factors.”

But experts are increasingly questioning this correlation because, for example, the number of Covid-19 fatalities has developed less dramatically than the curve of new infections since the spring. In the first two waves, this was still different, as the curves show.

“Completely unsuitable”

Gérard Krause, Head of the Department of Epidemiology at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig, already pointed out this development in April: The seven-day incidence has “always been problematic,” but in the meantime the value is becoming “really unsuitable.” It is becoming “more and more disconnected from the actual health situation”, due to more tests and the lack of data on which population groups are particularly affected. In addition, vaccinations “reduce the incidence of serious illnesses, even if the number of infections does not fall as quickly.

Krause suggested using the number of new intensive care admissions within one week per 100,000 population based on the patients’ places of origin as a parameter. “This value indicates the epidemic situation in a much more stable way than the previous seven-day incidence,” Krause said.






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