Stop running the height growth

Coronavirus - the danger of exponential growth

What makes the new coronavirus so dangerous?

There are coronaviruses that only cause a harmless cold. Others are far more dangerous. If vaccines and drugs are available, they too can be managed. The great danger of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is that in the worst case it can lead to severe or even fatal COVID-19 disease courses.

As long as not enough people are vaccinated and as long as there are no effective drugs against the disease, the danger remains. Research is in full swing worldwide, with new findings being added every day. However, it takes patience.

Time gain as an antidote

Keep your distance, wear a mask, follow hygiene rules, Corona app and Corona tests are the tools in the course of this pandemic. Regular ventilation is also important, especially if there are several people in the same room.

When applied promptly and consistently, these virus containment measures can work. Temporary exit restrictions are also sometimes a means of counteracting the massive spread of the virus.

This gives researchers, doctors and politicians valuable time to gain new knowledge, make decisions and develop new strategies in the fight against the virus.

Exponential growth and the dynamics of a pandemic

In order to better assess such a pandemic and its risks, experts use mathematical models. These can be used to calculate how high the number of cases of infection will increase over time.

In the case of infectious diseases, which one infected person can infect several people, exponential growth is to be expected. Even if one person infects "only" two more, the result is a dramatic and rapidly growing increase in infected people over an ever shorter period of time.

What would happen without containment measures?

If the SARS-CoV-2 infection is unchecked, it is assumed that an infected person infects around three others on average. Each of these people then infects three others again and so the process continues.

In the first few days, the increase in new infections is still manageable. Only a few days later the new infection rate skyrocketed. The capacities of the hospitals are reaching their limits, if there is an overload there is a lack of intensive care beds, ventilators and adequately trained staff.

"Flatten the curve"

To ensure that as many seriously ill people as possible receive optimal care, it is important to slow down the spread of the infection. The health system is then not overloaded.

There are still sufficient staff, beds and technical equipment in intensive care medicine: The curve, which shows the number of new infections over a period of time, must be flatter. In English this procedure is called "flatten the curve".

Anyone can help reduce the risk of new infections and keep the health system running. Keeping your distance from others, wearing a mask, observing hygiene rules, ventilating adequately, getting tested and, if possible, staying at home can save lives.

In Germany, as in many other countries, a corona warning app for mobile phones helps to detect infections in good time and to slow down the dynamic of the spread. It is also recommended to keep a contact diary.

Herd immunity as a natural virus barrier?

People who have recovered from a viral infection are likely to be immune for some time. They then offer the population group in which they live what is known as "herd protection" through "herd immunity".

Scientists assume that this protection is achieved when 60 to 70 percent of the population are immune. They act as a natural barrier in the chain of infection.

However, surviving illness with COVID-19 may not mean permanent immunity: The number of antibodies can drop rapidly within a few months; Multiple illnesses are also known. It is unclear whether recurring symptoms are new infections or a flare-up of the disease.

Vaccinated people also contribute to herd protection. That is why vaccination is not only important for self-protection, but also for the protection of the whole group.

Various vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 were developed in 2020 at unprecedented speed. The corona vaccination has been an important part of the fight against the pandemic since it was approved.

A return to normal will only be possible when a sufficient number of people are immune to the virus through vaccination or surviving illness.