The interviewer tells us that Professor Sucharit Bhakdi is an infectious disease specialist and one of the most highly cited medical research scientists in Germany. She says: " Today we will talk about coronavirus. This virus is spreading fear over the whole world. Germany has declared a state of emergency and imposed extreme restrictions." She asks: "What are corona viruses? "
Prof. Sucharit explains: "These viruses co-exist with humans and animals around the globe. The viruses are the cause of very common, minor diseases of the respiratory tract. Very often, infections remain subclinical, without symptoms. Severe infections occur almost exclusively in elderly patients with other underlying illnesses, in particular of lungs and heart."
"Now, however, a new member is on stage spreading fear around the world. Why? The new COVID-19 originated in China and spread rapidly. It appeared to be accompanied by an unexpectedly high number of deaths. Alarming reports followed from Northern Italy that concurred with the Chinese experience. It must, however, be pointed out that the large majority of other outbreaks in other parts of the world appeared to display lower apparent mortality rates and such high numbers of 4, 5, or 6% were not reached. For example, in South Korea the apparent mortality rate was 1%."
"Why `apparent` mortality rate?" asks the interviewer.
"When patients concurrently have other illnesses, an infectious agent must not be held solely responsible for a lethal outcome. This happens for COVID-19, but such a conclusion is false and gives rise to the danger that other important factors are overlooked. Different mortality rates may well be due to different local situations. For example, what does Northern Italy have in common with China? Answer: horrific air pollution, the highest in the world. Northern Italy is the China of Europe. The lungs of inhabitants there have been chronically injured over decades and for this simple reason the situation may not be comparable to elsewhere."
"What about Germany - the virus has also spread to us?"
"Yes. It is spreading in Germany and one of the most important consequence is that we now have sufficient data to gauge the true danger of the virus in our country."
The interviewer interrupts: "Which is what the German experts and politicians have done. The highest alert level has been proclaimed and extreme preventive measures have been installed in the desperate attempt to slow down the spread of the virus."
"Yes, and this is the incredible tragedy. Because all these adopted measures are actually senseless, namely, the pressing questions are answered. The first one: Does the virus generally cause more serious illness also in young people and kill patients who have no concurring illness? This would make them different from other everyday coronaviruses of the world. The answer is clearly: `No`."
"We have 10,000 infections reported (18 March 2020) 99.5% have no, or only mild, symptoms. Here, we already see that it is false and dangerous to talk about 10,000 `patients`. They are not seriously ill. `Infection` is not identical with `disease`."
"Of 10,000 infected people only 50 to 60 were seriously ill and 30 died, to the present day, in 30 days. So we have an apparent mortality rate of one COVID-19 positive case per day. Up to now..."
"Then the looming worst case scenario that must be prevented, according to the authorities, would be 1,000,000 cases and maybe 3,000 deaths in 100 days. This would mean 30 deaths a day. The aim is to prevent this `worst case scenario`..."
Presenter: "All current emergency measures aim to slow down virus spread to save lives."
"Yes. But we are looking already at the worst case scenario - with 30 deaths a day."
"Twenty deaths a day may sound like a lot. Keep in mind that every day, 2200 over 65-year-olds depart from us, here in Germany. Keep in mind that many of these carry common coronaviruses. How many are not known? So let us just assume 1% (which is surely too low). This would translate to 22 a day. And these die every day. The only difference is that we would not talk about `corona-deaths`. Because we know that these viruses are normally not the major cause of death..."
"This is what is happening. We are afraid that 1,000,000 infections with the new virus will lead to 30 deaths a day over the next 100 days. But we do not realise that 20, or 30 or 40 or 100 patients, positive for normal coronaviruses, are already dying every day..."
"So what do you think of all these measures?"
"They are grotesque, absurd and very dangerous. Our elderly citizens have every right to make efforts not to belong to the 2200 that daily embark on their last journey. Social contacts and social events, theatre and music, travel and holiday recreation, sports and hobbies etc etc all help to prolong their stay on earth. The life expectancy of millions is being shortened. The horrifying impact on the world economy threatens the existence of countless people. The consequences for medical care are profound. Already services to patients who are in need are reduced, operations cancelled, practices empty, hospital personnel dwindling. All this will impact profoundly on our whole society..."