The only way to combat coronavirus is to bring down new infections and conduct contact tracing, Germany's four top medical research societies said in a rare joint statement.
Trying to achieve “herd immunity” is bound to fail, said the statement by the Leibniz Association, Helmholtz Association, the Fraunhofer Society, and the Max Planck Society.
The statement said scientists from all four societies pooled their analysis of data and came up with a common recommendation.
“Achieving herd immunity would take several years if the health system is not to be overwhelmed,” the paper says, adding that restrictions on public life would still be necessary in a herd immunity approach.
The researchers say a two-pronged approach is the most effective: “In the first phase, new infections are reduced until effective contact tracing becomes possible. In the second phase, there can be an adaptive strategy based on low numbers of infections.”
For Germany, the researchers warn that while the reproduction of the coronavirus has been slowed down, “the situation is not stable, even a small increase in the reproduction number would lead us back into a phase of exponential growth.”
The numbers: Germany has reported more than 163,000 coronavirus cases and at least 6,600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.