Dhe Bonn virologist Hendrik Streeck has firmly rejected allegations that he had his study on the corona infection process marketed in the Heinsberg district. “That was not a marketing,” said Streeck on Wednesday in the health committee of the state parliament. “Personally, I was pretty shocked to see it that way.”
The public relations work for the Heinsberg study by the Berlin agency Storymachine in social media had caused criticism. The early publication of interim results of the study a month ago was also criticized by some of Streeck’s colleagues. They criticized that at the time of the press conference they had not yet had the interim results in writing in a scientific article. The Heinsberg study was commissioned by the NRW state government.
Streeck also admitted mistakes in public relations for the study. Today he knew: “It went stupid.” But he and his team had been in a situation in which “incredibly many people” were interested in the study and the spread of the corona virus.
Heinsberg study in “in record time”
There was a lot going on in his email account from the “dream interpreter” to the suggestion of a “virus vacuum cleaner”. He was therefore grateful for the suggestion that someone “looked over his shoulder” and put the information about the study on social media so that he no longer had to worry about it. Streeck said he had found “nothing reprehensible” about getting help with public relations. “But what gives me sleepless nights is the question that there is something disreputable in your own work.”
Streeck said that he had started a study “in record time” and wanted to contribute data to the discussion. Then suddenly it was all about questions like easing the corona restrictions. “I never talked about loosening,” said Streeck. “It was simply assumed.”
A research team led by Streeck surveyed 919 residents in 405 households in Gangelt on the Dutch border and carried out corona tests. After a carnival session in mid-February, many citizens in the place were infected with the new virus. The community is therefore considered the epicenter of the virus in NRW. However, the situation is only partially comparable with other regions in Germany.
Infected carnivalists with more symptoms
As a result of the study, Streeck presented a model calculation last week, according to which around 1.8 million people in Germany could have been infected with the corona virus by then. According to the results, 22 percent of those infected showed “no symptoms at all” in Gangelt. Until the test, many of them did not know that they were sick at all.
Streeck presented further results of the study to the committee. The risk of infection in the households tested decreased, the more people lived in the household in question. While the risk of becoming infected in a two-person household was around 43 percent, it had dropped to around 18 percent in four people. He couldn’t explain it scientifically yet, said Streeck. He can only speculate at the moment.
It was also interesting to observe from the Heinsberg study that the participants in the carnival session in Gangelt not only got infected with Sars-Cov-2 more often, but also showed more symptoms. At the same time, Streeck regretted that children under the age of six were underrepresented in the study. Children have to understand the infection process better.
The researchers assume that 0.37 percent of those infected died in Gangelt. However, only seven deaths were included in the mortality rate calculation.