Halb Germany seems to complain about the anti-Covid measures. The latest study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that the German government and the federal states have done many things right. A large number of digits and graphics that the OECD experts have compiled over the months demonstrate the comparatively good performance: Germany has twice introduced a comparatively weak lockdown and yet limited the number of deaths: by the end of October it was 126 per 1 A million inhabitants. That is less than a third of the European Union average.
The OECD is assessed chronologically in different stages. One finding: Especially when the pandemic broke out, Germany reacted very quickly and quickly ramped up test capacities. Just one month after the number of deaths had reached the limit of 10 per 1 million inhabitants, there were already around twice as many tests in Germany as in the subsequent group of Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Spain and Malta. At this point in time, no other country had anywhere near the German number of 434 tests per 100,000 inhabitants. At that time, neighboring France had not even had 50 tests.
The strategy paid off, not least in retirement homes: by the beginning of October, Germany had recorded 696 Covid deaths in retirement homes aged at least 80 years, while Belgium, for example, had almost 9,700, Spain more than 7,600 and France a good 3,600.
European top position in intensive care beds
In the hospital sector, Germany has benefited above all from its large number of beds and from its well-equipped doctors and nursing staff. The various country figures are not easy to compare with one another, because the available figures partly relate to different years, but it is clear that Germany entered the crisis with greater capacities than all other EU countries. In 2018, Germany had 8 beds per 1000 inhabitants compared to 5.9 beds in France, 3 in Spain and 2.5 in Great Britain.
Germany also holds the top European position in intensive care beds. The spread in Europe is wide: According to the OECD, the 34 corresponding places per 100,000 inhabitants in Germany only had 5 intensive care beds before the crisis in Ireland. The differences are likely to have narrowed since the pandemic as many countries ramped up their capacities.
However, efforts often reach their limits, because beds alone are not enough, the appropriate staff and the associated equipment such as ventilators, oxygen, infusion pumps, anesthetics or just antibiotics are required.
For a long time, the OECD had called for health systems to switch more from inpatient to outpatient care and thus reduce hospital capacities. Because it is not efficient to have large bed capacities when the occupancy rate is low. Since the Covid pandemic, this demand has been viewed critically in some cases. Germany followed the recommendations significantly less than other countries.
Hospital staff shortage
Katerina Bathova, Director at the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic, criticized on Thursday in an OECD-organized panel discussion that “a number of international organizations, including the EU and the OECD, have repeatedly identified high numbers of hospital beds as a weak point in health systems. However, we found out that this was one of our greatest advantages in the fight against Covid-19 ”.
Today, the OECD is calling for countries to be able to expand capacities quickly. This also applies to hospital staff. “In most countries, this is still the greatest bottleneck, especially since the training of a nurse takes three years and that of a doctor takes ten years,” writes the OECD.