How is Germany testing half a million people a week? Health expert explains

2 April 2020, 16:40 | Updated: 2 April 2020, 16:41

By Fiona Jones

This German health expert explains how the country is testing half a million people a week for coronavirus.

Political and health editor Michaela Kuefner said Germany does not so much have a "model" of testing and in fact everyone in the country is "hanging on the every word" of chief virologist Christian Drosten.

"He believes that the secret of Germany being able to understand the spreads pretty well is that Germany started testing very early on and that it had highly regionalised testing facilities and capabilities.

"It's not a centralised system, it is down to a very regional level of decision making and individual doctors to decide who gets a test. Then it depends on your region, how readily available a test is because Germany is a federal state."

Ms Kuefner shared that the scientist Mr Drosten actually developed the coronavirus test early this year and "immediately made the recipe available to the entire world - at that moment laboratories around the globe started gearing up to be able to test."

Germany are currently testing 500,000 people a week
Germany are currently testing 500,000 people a week. Picture: PA

It was on 26th January when the first cases were detected in Germany that they started scaling up their testing, she said.

"Germany didn't test 500,000 each week, it certainly didn't have the capacity from day one, but that's where we stand right now," Ms Kuefner continued.

She did point out that not everyone in Germany will get tested, only those displaying symptoms.

The healthcare workers, who are seen as "system relevant", are routinely checked for the virus. However, she said, there isn't a nationwide procedure, it is down to individual regions.

She reflected that only with hindsight will Germany be able to tell if a centralised or a federalised approach is more beneficial.

She did say that as the world is being guided by scientific research, Germany is "coping quite well with politicians not having a masterplan."