German RIVM investigates corona hearth: ‘Four times more people infected than known’


The German Robert Koch Institute has the first results published of an extensive corona study among 2000 residents of the municipality of Kupferzell. The village in the state of Baden-Württemberg was disproportionately hard hit by the corona virus in March.

Antibody research now shows that the virus has spread much harder than expected. As many as four times more people have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 than was known.

Last May, a research team from the RKI settled in Kupferzell. In the village, with about 6,000 inhabitants, more than a hundred people were hit in March infected after a church service. The researchers wanted to find out what causes sudden fires in certain regions, how the virus spreads and to what extent patients build up immunity against a possible second infection. Similar studies are ongoing in three other municipalities.

In Kupferzell, the RKI team invited all residents aged 18 and over to participate. More than 2,200 people (60 percent) responded to the call. They underwent multiple blood and health tests and were interviewed between May 20 and June 9.

Fewer young people, more elderly people

In total, antibodies were found in the blood of 7.7 percent of the people tested. This so-called seroprevalence was found to be slightly higher in women (8.7 percent) than in men (6.7 percent). There is also a distinction between age groups. Seroprevalence is relatively low in young people between 18 and 34 years old (6.3 percent); antibodies were detected much more often in elderly people over 80 (16.7 percent).

Of the people who have been infected, 83 percent experienced one or more symptoms of the new coronavirus, such as shortness of breath, fever, or loss of smell and taste. That means that about 17 percent of infected people have had no symptom at all. This makes tracing the virus more difficult.


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