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News | Friday, 27 March 2020

National Academy Leopoldina advises on coronavirus pandemic

National Academy Leopoldina advises on coronavirus pandemic

Illustration: Pixabay / iXimus

The worldwide spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and its associated respiratory disease COVID-19 proceeds at a highly dynamic pace. The Leopoldina has published a first ad-hoc statement on possible health policy options to counter the further spread of the virus. The associated working group will support and accompany the readjustment and implementation of any measures with additional publications. An additional working group has been established to address the legal, economic, social and psychological aspects of the pandemic.

21 March 2020 – German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina presents ad-hoc-statement

An interdisciplinary working group of the Leopoldina has been working on medical perspectives of the pandemic. The resulting ad-hoc statement "Coronavirus Pandemic in Germany: Challenges and Options for Intervention" discusses potential health policy options to counter the further spread of coronavirus in Germany.

Measures taken by the German Federal Government and the German Federal States (Länder) to curb the ongoing coronavirus pandemic are urgently required at present and correspond to the  threat  posed by  the  pandemic.  They  consist  of  three  elements:  (1)  containment  of  the  epidemic, (2) protection of vulnerable population groups, and (3) capacity increase in the public healthcare system and  in  the  public  supply  of critical  goods  and  services.  There  is  scientific  evidence for the effectiveness and necessity of selected measures, while others are proposed on  the  basis  of  projections  and  political  considerations.  Top  priority  must  be  given  to  the  development of drugs and vaccines. With this, medical ethics must be considered.

From a  scientific  point  of  view,  a  Germany-wide  temporary  shutdown  (of approx. 3  weeks)  with  consistent physical distancing seems advisable at this time. Necessary and health-preserving activities must remain possible. All efforts in the next weeks and months should be directed towards making pharmaceutical interventions and protective measures available for the public, and towards assuring testing capacities for cases suspected of infection and for those persons entering the country. During the  shutdown  period,  preparations  must  be  made  for  the  controlled  and  selective  restart  of  publicand economic life.

By means of a temporary “shutdown”, the working group discussed a stringent nationwide curfew until at least after the Easter holidays. At that point, the situation would have to be re-evaluated. This would not imply a work prohibition, a ban on purchasing food or even a ban on going for walks with the family. The goal is to make consistent use of home office, if possible. A disciplined spatial distance of 2 meters between people is also crucial, especially if they do not live in the same household.

The detailed ad-hoc statement "Coronavirus Pandemic in Germany: Challenges and Options for Intervention" may be downloaded here.

Members of the working group on medical aspects of the pandemic:

  • Professor Dr Katja Becker, Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Giessen
  • Professor Dr Stephan Becker, Institute of Virology, Philipps-University of Marburg
  • Professor Dr Franz Josef Conraths, Institute for Epidemiology, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute, Riems
  • Professor Dr Christian Drosten, Institute of Virology, Charité University Hospital Berlin
  • Professor Dr Bernhard Fleischer, Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine Hamburg
  • Professor Dr Bärbel Friedrich, former Vice-President of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
  • Professor Dr Gerald Haug, President of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
  • Professor Dr Ralph Hertwig, Max-Planck-Institute for Human Development Berlin
  • Professor Dr Rolf Hilgenfeld, Institute of Biochemistry, University of Luebeck
  • Professor Dr Stefan Huster, Chair of Public Law, Social and Health Law and Philosophy of Law, Ruhr University Bochum
  • Professor Dr Thomas Krieg, Vice-President of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Class III Medicine
  • Professor Dr Heyo Kroemer, CEO, Charité University Hospital Berlin
  • Professor Dr Thomas Lengauer, Max Planck Institute for Computer Science
  • Professor Dr Frank Rösler, Biological Psychology and Neuropsychology, University of Hamburg
  • Professor Dr Cornel Sieber, Institute for Biomedicine of Aging, Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
  • Professor Dr Claudia Spies, Division of Operative Intensive Care Medicine, Charité University Hospital Berlin
  • Professor Dr Norbert Suttorp, Division of Infectiology and Pneumatology, Charité University Hospital Berlin
  • Professor Dr Clemens Wendtner, Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Munich Schwabing Clinic


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