Why the doubling time is so important, and discussions should

When is this all? Not in front of the 20. April, that much is for sure. And then? There can be perhaps loose. Maybe hairdressers are allowed to cut hair again. Perhaps children are allowed to romp again on the playgrounds. Perhaps the owners may re-open their beer gardens. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps – or perhaps not.

How long the Coronavirus rules apply?

Because maybe it is still too early to lift restrictions. This Signal want to send the Chancellor and the Minister presidents of the Länder according to their circuit meeting on Wednesday. “We can make no statement about how it will be after the 19th century. April continues,” stated Angela Merkel. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder agreed with her: “There is absolutely no grounds for complacency. We need to have the necessary patience. We need time.”

The time is to be used on the one hand, the German health system, so upgrade that disease is also a variety of Covid-19-done. The other is to be prevented, the number of seriously the burden of Ill borders of the clinics is to blow yet. Of all the measures, which the people paste now for two and a half weeks to serve. The spread of the Coronavirus to be slowed down by the contact constraints. “Flatten the curve” is the Motto of the hour, the flattening curve has probably understood by now also the last. (If not: Read more Here.)

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It is much too early to be a – gradual – to discuss exit from the new rules of coexistence. This, too, the heads of government of the Federation and the countries, the citizens gave to their switching conference on the way. And yet, the debate, of course – and you must also be led. Finally, the Federal Republic of Germany is currently experiencing the most drastic restrictions on basic rights since the end of the Second world war. The democratic and free society is asking is absolutely right. When is this all? Even if the people know that it is for an Exit too early.

The Numbers and statistics play a special role in this debate. You can’t give hope, when the curve rises so steeply. But they can also lead to disillusionment, even despair, when the Numbers explode.

Why the doubling time is so important

The number of Coronavirus infections is on the rise. So it is to be read to and to hear. In Germany, according to the Robert Koch-Institute (RKI) have been registered up to this Thursday 73.522 Covid-19-cases, according to 67.366 the day before, and 61.913 on Tuesday. Experts believe that there are a high number of unreported cases, the actual case numbers are much higher. Nevertheless, it must keep the policy to the Pay of the RKI and other institutions. There is simply no other with a similar reliability.

The Covid-19-case figures, is in the nature of the thing. The RKI published a day, the cumulative number of confirmed cases added up all infections, regardless of the number of convalescent or dead patients. As long as the Coronavirus in Germany is rampant, must the number of infections rise. Taken by itself, the cumulative number of Covid-19-cases, so first of all, hardly a statement about the spread of the Virus.

Instead, the Federal government would, in the first line to a different value, you can decide on a loosening or a tightening of the rules in force: The number of days in which the infection to double, called doubling time. According to German Chancellor Angela Merkel this must be in Germany in about 14 days, particularly with the intensive medical treatment duration difficult course of disease contexts.

Why the doubling time is an important criterion, shows a fictional example:

In our example, the country has beds, a hospital with a capacity of 1000-intensive. To simplify the calculation, we assume that the duration of treatment is Ill, in the model in exactly 14 days, in addition, new cases will be delivered only at the expiration of the doubling time in the clinic. The proportion of patients who are severely Ill, the total number of the Infected is always the same.

Today, on day 1, treated in the example, the country of 100 heavy Covid-19-cases. On day 3, so with a doubling time of two days, with the addition of 100 patients, on day 5, 200, etc., In such a course is already exceeded on the ninth day, and the load capacity of the health system. It is new Ill add to this every day in the clinic, while the first cases to claim for 14 days continue the intensive beds. Already on day 9 would have to be supplied with a doubling time of two days, a total of 1600 people in intensive care, on day 13 already 6400. The health care system in the example, the country collapses in a very short time.

Doubling of Covid-19-cases in ten days

The doubling time is 14 days, released the first 100 patients from the hospital, if the next 100 to arrive: on day 15. On day 29, this will be dismissed in turn, and 200 cases are new in the clinic. At the 43. Day 400 patients in intensive medical treatment are therefore. The capacity limit of the hospital in the example, the country is in such a model, the course not liable to be exceeded after a few days, but only at the beginning of the twelfth week. This is around three months, in which the number of mechanical ventilation places increased or medical personnel can be trained, and provide the research to drugs or a vaccine air. You manage to bring it in the example to the country by measures such as contact restrictions, the doubling time of infections over the duration of the treatment, relax the location once again.

In summary: the higher the doubling time of the infection, the better the health system is able to cope with the disease. This principle applies to our example to country in the same way as for the real Germany, of the Covid-19-Happen, of course, much more complex and completely different standards of play. For example, it for severe cases also have a role, whether particularly a lot of old or vorerkrankte people are infected. The number of Coronavirus-Tests is mainly to pay for the case.

But where does Germany stand now? One of several media (including “der Spiegel”, “Süddeutsche Zeitung”), carried out the analysis of Figures of the Johns Hopkins University, the RKI and other authorities shows that, taking into account the course of the past five days, the doubling time in this country is currently around ten days – so still far from the envisaged 14 days of the policy. But – and this is a little glimmer of light – the doubling time is now significantly higher than at the beginning of the epidemic in Germany (at that time about two days).

The contact limitations of use? For a final assessment, it is still too early, said recently, among other things, RKI-President Lothar Wieler, with a view to the time of up to 14 days, which is between an infection with the Coronavirus and possible the first Covid-19-symptoms. Angela Merkel and her country colleagues felt that way. You want to first pull after Easter, a first interim balance sheet in the current action – and only then decide whether you can be tightened or loosened.

“Stay strong!”

However, on the horizon, the next debate is. The doubling time may in the country as a whole is considered currently to be around ten days, regional value, however, is very different: it is located in North Rhine-Westphalia, in the meantime, for a good 13 days in the city-state of Bremen even at 15, in the Saarland, in contrast, in the case of six, and in Bavaria, at about 7.5 days. At the County level it looks sometimes different.

The state of

Doubling time*


15,3 days

North Rhine-Westphalia

To 13.3 days


12 days


11,8 days


10.9 days

Lower Saxony

10.9 days


The 10.6 days


10.5 days


10.5 days


9,6 days


9,6 days


9.5 days


8 days


7,8 days


7.5 days


6.2 days

*Source: “Süddeutsche Zeitung” according to data from the country authorities and the Robert Koch-Institute; Stand: 2. April 2020, 16 At

May make the Bremen earlier their first steps in the direction of normality as the Saar countries? Theoretically, it is conceivable to decide the policy. And the need to think for themselves, in addition to the consequences for the health system also further consequences: the impact on the economy and society, for example. (Read the star: “when is the madness over? Depends on who you ask”).

The discussion about a relaxation of the rules is to be applied in certain regions, already showed the telephone press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Bavarian Prime Minister, Markus Söder, and Hamburg’s First mayor, Peter Tschentscher, after the switching of the conference of heads of government on Wednesday.

As the policy of this question is also clear: there was agreement, not a regional patchwork to emerge, so Chancellor Merkel, to a question on the possible regional relaxations: “We have clearly said we want to as the Federal Republic of Germany together, go out, and this depends on the Situation anywhere, so must be that the pandemic on the health system can be managed.”

Tschentscher agreed with the Chancellor in the case of: “It is important to keep track of the uniform action more than strategy,” says the trained as a medical Laboratory scientist. There is a high degree of dynamism. “You can’t assume that a country that today is still affected a little, it will be in three or four weeks.” The Coronavirus do not know any national borders. “We must, therefore, for the whole of Germany to ensure that we have the epidemic a total of sufficiently slowed down. Island solutions will not help us here,” said the mayor of Hamburg.

Anyway, a premature easing of restrictions is a risky one, on learning pointed out in addition to many science least of all, Merkel. “We must take care that we get from the rain in the eaves.” Say: When people meet again, as before, the new rules of being Together or better separate life, you can increase the Covid-19-case number and the doubling time will decrease, with a corresponding impact on the health system.

New infection would have to be recognized chains are then quickly and isolated. The not could could start all over again. Probably also the reason why Merkel made an appeal to all citizens: “Stay strong!”

Sources: Audio-press conference at Phoenix, “der Spiegel”, “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, case numbers, Robert-Koch-Institute, Johns Hopkins University

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