Surprising result: Between 20 and 30 percent of the people who appear in the official statistics are not in hospital because of coronavirus. One reason apparently lies in the German reporting system.

The number of people who have to be hospitalized because of the coronavirus is overestimated, according to research by “Die Zeit”: between 20 and 30 percent of the people who are listed in the official statistics are not in hospital treatment because of Covid-19, but were tested positive by chance.

For example, pregnant women who come to give birth or people who have had accidents. The Robert Koch Institute also overstates the much-discussed number of patients in intensive care units: In intensive care units, ten percent of the patients reported as coronavirus cases are treated for another cause. This was confirmed by the German Association of Intensive Care Physicians (Divi) in response to a query from “Zeit”.

Fake “Coronavirus Patient”

“Die Zeit” asked 20 hospitals nationwide for their concrete figures. Many did not want to see these published, but confirmed the approximately 20 to 30 percent of double diagnoses with coronavirus.

The Barmer health insurance fund also observes double diagnoses. “We see a noteworthy proportion of hospital cases that were treated due to a disease other than Covid-19 and which nevertheless run in the statistics under ‘Coronavirus Patient’,” says Uwe Repschläger, financial director of Barmer. For his statement, he uses data from 20,000 patients treated as Coronavirus Patients.

Reporting system responsible for the grey area

The German reporting system is responsible for this grey area: all new patients are systematically tested for the virus on admission to hospital and, if positive, reported to the Robert Koch Institute via the public health department. For the hospitals themselves, the distinction is not significant: a Coronavirus patient, whether treated with or because of Coronavirus, must be transferred to an isolation room. Nurses and doctors must take special precautions when treating him. Politically, however, the number of severe courses of coronavirus is an important indicator.


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