What we can learn from the representative COVID-19 Sampling in Austria and Iceland

What we can learn from the representative COVID-19 Sampling in Austria and Iceland

Representative COVID-19 Sampling in Austria

Last week, Austria presented results of the first representative COVID-19 sampling done in any country, and the results are surprising.

Measures of social distancing worked really well in Austria – the reproductive rate has been brought under 1, which means that 10 people only transmit the virus to 9 others. But, there is more.

Effective reproduction rate COVID-19 Austria 10 April 2020

 

0.3% infected – 28500 people – mixed blessing

3 times as many people have the virus in Austria, as those being Ill.

Austrian COVID-19 infections 10 April 2020

This “good” result is correlated to the quick and early measures taken by the Austrian government and the discipline of the population, It is a mixed blessing, though. It also means, that 99% of the population have had no contact with the COVID-19 virus. So as soon as the measures are relaxed, the spread can be expected to increase. It will require a careful throttling of the relaxation, and monitoring of possible outbreaks, where it needs pulling back the reigns.

Now, as soon as you relax the measures, chances are that the effective reproductive rate will go up. Also relevant: how many people will get ill? Iceland has good data on that.

Iceland: 50% of the people tested positive do not show any symptoms

With a population of 364.000 people, the biotech company deCode Genetics tested 10.300 people in Iceland – another representative sample – so people with and without symptoms were tested.

Those numbers include the first results of the voluntary tests on people with no symptoms, which started last Friday. The first batch of 1,800 tests produced 19 positive COVID-19 cases, or about 1% of the sample. – Very similar figure to Austria. “Early results from deCode Genetics indicate that a low proportion of the general population has contracted the virus and that about half of those who tested positive are non-symptomatic,” Thorolfur Guðnason, Iceland’s chief epidemiologist, was quoted as saying BuzzFeed News. “The other half displays very moderate cold-like symptoms.”

Italy’s town of Vo did also comprehensive testing of all 3300 people, with 3% of the population tested positive, most of them without symptoms.

Environmental and lifestyle factors

This information gives us a lot of hope – however, having said that – the effects of COVID-19 are very situational. Depending on where you live, how you live, and your immune system there are environmental factors that play a significant role. Availability of running water (30% of Afro-Americans and Latinos do not have running water) pollution of the air, water and e.g. pesticides like glyphosate in food highly correlate with outbreaks that show negative outcomes, as well as the health preconditions that people have – whether age, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular or respiratory diseases play a role as I mentioned in my earlier post on COVID-19.

We still do not know how we are doing with COVID-19, or Corona

So what can we learn? The challenge remains – unless we do representative samples in the general population, it is hard to tell how we are doing on the Corona crises story. The number of cases tested is still the main reporting measure, as well as the number of deaths. as shown on the Johns Hopkins counter.

Both these figures are misleading and irrelevant, in my view, unless you want to create a lot of fear and control. The first figure depends on testing capacity and test-kit availability, and the second one is highly skewed as most countries follow the rule “died with COVID-19” – and reports show that people who died without the virus, are labeled as such for political reasons.

Then we have not opened the can of worms of false-positive testing, and the 40+ mutations of the virus, and the possibility of auto-immunity. When very few people have the symptoms, having the virus spread throughout the population might still be an option, like with the seasonal flu? To be continued…

 

 

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About the Author

I seek the difference that makes the difference for challenges in life. For me, that means learning, getting out of the comfort zone, often rocking the boat with sacred cows. Pharmacist with IT business degree and certified coach, trainer, hypnotherapist. Dutch born Swiss Citizen.

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