When the first coronavirus infections were reported in China at the end of December 2019, it was hardly foreseeable that a worldwide pandemic would develop from this outbreak. Initially, it was thought that the spread of SARS-CoV-2 could be halted by isolating those infected and quarantining suspected cases. It is now clear that the virus will spread worldwide despite all the drastic measures taken so far. No epidemiologist still believes that isolation and quarantine can completely eliminate the virus.

The question that urgently needs to be addressed in the present situation is therefore not how we can eliminate the virus, but rather how we can ensure that it causes as little damage as possible. Here, direct damage caused by deaths, the absence from work, or the overloading of health care systems must be weighed against indirect damage, such as the consequences of social isolation and economic stagnation. In the following, an attempt will be made to present the ambiguities and lack of evidence for the measures currently under discussion and those being implemented. The core message is the need to obtain reliable data through research on the current situation to inform future similar events.

COVID-19 – Morbidity

Currently, in many countries, including Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the number of diagnosed cases doubles approximately every 2 to 2 ½ days [1]. Projections predict that the capacities of clinics and hospitals responsible for the care of patients in German-speaking countries will be exhausted by the beginning of April at the latest [2]. It is uncertain whether the measures currently taken will have a favorable effect on this scenario. The increase in new cases could at least be slowed down in China, South Korea and Singapore, where significant suppression measures were taken [1,2].

COVID-19 Lethality