WHO calls for action as Europe coronavirus cases rise
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Gerd Antes, scientific director of the Cochrane Germany Foundation, made the incendiary statement. He argued Germany has failed to streamline its coronavirus data recording and played “almost zero” role in supporting “necessary clinical trials”.
By contrast Mr Antes, a former member of the Robert Koch Institute’s standing vaccine committee, praised Britain for being “very far ahead”.
Angela Merkel is due to stand down as German chancellor later this month.
Speaking to German publication Cicero, Mr Antes argued German authorities “made almost every mistake that could be made in the past 18 months.”
In particular, he focused on Germany not creating a representative sample to study coronavirus cases, and the poor use of recorded data.
The scientist said: “There are essentially two major failings: On the one hand, the creation of a representative cohort study was consistently prevented – a study with the help of which one could have mapped the whole of Germany using a representative group of 40,000 to 60,000 people.
“One could have regularly taken the necessary number of samples from all these people in order to understand what was happening in the general population over time.
“But that didn’t really happen. And where such a study was conducted, – unfortunately I have to say it so hard – it went belly up.”
Accurate records are crucial both for tracking the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and for devising new treatments.
Britain has one of the world’s most advanced coronavirus testing systems.
Asked about the “second mistake” Mr Antes continued: “This relates to the so-called routine data – i.e. the data that would actually arise on its own: the billing data at the health insurance companies or the documents for hospital admissions.
“This contains a huge amount of information, but it was simply neglected to process this data pool scientifically.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, I called for a kind of master plan to be drawn up – a plan in which you put together all the questions to which we have not yet had any satisfactory answers.
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“A strategy could then be developed from these questions in order to arrive at the appropriate answers with suitable studies and even from the routine data. but what should I say?”
By contrast Mr Antes was full of praise for British data gathering, singling out Oxford for particular praise.
Researchers at Oxford University developed the AstraZeneca vaccine, which proved highly effective at preventing death and hospitalisation from coronavirus.
Mr Antes commented: “A study group in Oxford is exemplary at a global level – not surprisingly.
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“Open questions are answered there with immense speed.
“We, however, have to atone for the fact that we did not play among the world’s best before Corona; in contrast to Great Britain, where they were always very far ahead.
“In a network of more than 180 clinics, the British have developed a way of exploring things in precise, targeted studies and then delivering concrete answers in two or three months – answers that we in Germany would not even be able to have after one and a half years.”
During the interview Mr Antes was clear he blames politicians for Germany’s data failings.
He said: “When it comes to the question of incompetence or intent, I actually tend to blame it on incompetence.
“Politicians in particular are apparently unable to grasp the situation in its entirety. Instead, they just want to survive the next election.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.
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