Germany: brain lockdown

Teaching and education during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic would be so easy!

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Dear readers,

Easter, as in previous years provided some time to calm down. The custom of gifts of colored eggs is found globally, across civilizations. It is a good sign for the future, eggs are a fertility symbol.

Still, we are coming back to the pandemic. Infection numbers will continue to increase, according to our experience and pure logic. Unfortunately, German public health authorities, just as around Christmas, have withheld the actual numbers. This is nothing short of manipulation.

Globally, confirmed infection numbers rose to over 134 million. Germany is counting more than 3 million infected, and 77,000 deaths. In Brazil, the rate of deaths is escalating yet again, a nightmare for the population. The US now count 500,000 deaths. New, dangerous, and more infectious variants are circulating, and will prevail.

Politics has decided to keep Germany in a constant yo-yo, destroying a limited number of economic sectors, instead of a broad, fair distributed shutdown, long enough to show lasting effect. You better get used to this nontransparent, and nonsensical situation. It is a mess, a total failure of German and European politicians.

That is all to say. To Germany it is a disgrace. Before WWII, Germany was a beacon of science. The current dealing with the pandemic is far from any scientific advice. We are wondering, where Germany will be a couple of years from now, if this is to continue.

Once again: We are advising a complete industry-wide 4-week shutdown as an EMERGENCY BREAK. A country-wide, complete shutdown with curfews, to reduce infection numbers. Once low rates of infections are reached, a long-term strategy will be implemented under strict application of protective measures and comprehensive testing.

The governor of the State of Saarland, who, as we remember, came in as a ‘substitute’, without the necessary competence and general education, does not get our sympathy for his idea to re-open immediately. He is lacking basic mathematical understanding, dismissing science, being immune to advice. We advocate that people taking a public office carrying great responsibility for many people, do have to have a proper education, just as is the prerequisite for all other jobs.

All the States had made the experience (surprising the governors), that a premature re-opening of businesses resulted in a steep increase of infection numbers. Thus, the governors should act in unison and solidarity, to stabilize the situation. Some of the governors would do good to look beyond their own noses. They could learn from others’ mistakes.

Schools and universities: To open or to close? Or maybe to adjust to the situation?

After the German Easter holidays, it is once again time to discuss this matter. An exasperating and useless discussion of State politicians. It is a mere political issue to open or close schools and child care center. The economists’ and parents’ interests are opposed to logic and science.

A recent meta-study in “Science” gave some hints as to the main drivers of the pandemic. Researchers at the Oxford University had analyzed data from 42 countries regarding government-imposed measures and their effects upon infection numbers. Two measures are sticking out: The ban of gatherings of more than 10 people, and the closures of schools and universities had the biggest impact on the pandemic course. (https://science.sciencemag.org/content/371/6531/eabd9338)

In Asia, students are sitting at a distance in the classrooms, while in Germany they are cramped together.

cartoon: Oliver Hoogvliet

Even in meeting rooms people are sitting closely together for meetings. It is unbelievable that after a pandemic year, people are still behaving recklessly. These are the reasons for increasing infection numbers.

We feel free to bring some light into this topic “schools and universities”, using common sense and scientific background.

An infectious disease such as the current one is transmitted through contact with an infected individual, or animal, the virus’ host.

Since there is a lot of contact between children in classrooms, SARS-CoV-2 will be transmitted inevitably.

As mentioned previously, there is insufficient hygiene in German school restrooms. To Germany, this is a disgrace. Numerous pathogens are spread through filthy toilets. It is so easy to provide toilet paper, soap, disposable tissues, and disinfectants. This would suffice, providing a minimal hygiene.

Over the past decades, customs have changed in Germany. Younger people tend to have more close physical contact, even to strangers there is no polite distance, which is preferred by the older generation. Maybe a better awareness regarding that might be in place.

To keep schools and universities open, there needs to be an adjustment to the current situation, including behavior rules for personnel, visitors, students and pupils. Should a strict application of protective measures not be possible, the institution needs to close.

The following adjustments are necessary for re-openings:

If daily self-tests of students and teachers are applied, and there are no larger outbreaks, these institutions may continue to work under the condition of 6 ft. distancing, N95 masks, and constant airflow across the room. Across the room means at least two open windows, facing each other. We suggest a constant airflow. The more often the air is exchanged, the less virus accumulates. For details, please consult our March 19 post: rocket science: air to breathe https://www.sajo-innovation.de/blog/rocket-science-air-to-breathe/

Too often we see reports of cramped classrooms, and students w/o masks – what unbelievable sight. The same goes for childcare facilities.

Half-empty classrooms, digital schooling, or a hybrid of both should be feasible by now. To wear a mask in a classroom will harm no-one. In Asia, this is working flawlessly. And medical and scientific personnel all over the world are wearing such masks daylong, with lots of over-time. Nobody suffocated yet.

Outdoors, there is no need for masks as long as 6 ft. distance are kept. If not, N95 masks MUST be donned.

What is the problem giving tablets to schools? Politics, science ministries are throwing away a lot of taxpayers’ money. Where if not in education would this money be used meaningfully? The young are the future of this country. Such an investment would be meaningful as opposed to giving money to the Lufthansa, Daimler or other big players, who in turn use this money to pay dividends to their shareholders.

We do not have any more understanding for the unbelievable, leaden ease. Blind, aimless activism, starting summer 2020 did lead us nowhere. Please, get true scientific support, and please use the know-how provided. This will help.

A note to educational institutions, such as schools and universities: You are teaching from textbooks. Now, currently there is a global pandemic, a highly contagious disease originating in the animal kingdom. Science has found many answers to questions around this topic. Vaccines had been developed in record time. Everyone is confronted with this virus. Teachers and professors should be capable to communicate up-to-date know-how to the students in an attractive way. The topic is brand-new, exciting, and important to know. An awareness of a new situation, new behavioral rules, protective measures should be taught at these facilities. Hygiene, viruses, selection pressure, emergence of mutants, vaccine development and production, but also economic issues, and societal impact would fill a year’s worth of education. To keep on teaching aged textbooks does not raise spirit of research, no curiosity. Science is alive, please teach this!

Together with your students, pupils, and trainees, try and develop new concepts, that may be accepted and implemented.

Come on! What are you waiting for?

Remember: The race against this virus is in full swing. We are in the midst of it!

The way out of the pandemic, by Dr. Sabine Breun and Dr. Jörg Baumann, use of this figure is permitted with authors’ names exclusively! (To zoom in please press CTRL+).

We are again pointing to our post dealing with the strategy for 2021 to defeat the virus.

https://www.sajo-innovation.de/blog/strategy-2021-to-defeat-sars-cov-2/

Yours, Sabine and Jörg

SAJO is consulting all around infectious diseases. We are applying our know-how, that we have acquired in more than 20 years. We do what we can to fight this pandemic.

SAJO – for a healthy world and better future!

CALL: We are all in desperate need of new antiviral drugs to defeat SARS-CoV-2 with all its future mutants. SAJO offers THE key technology to enable this timely. Should you seek an opportunity to invest, please feel free to do so, in order for us to develop antivirals and to make progress at a faster pace.

A heartfelt thanks to Oliver Hoogvliet for the awesome cartoons, ollihoo (https://hoogvliet.de).

This is post No. 164. To our delight our blog is receiving a lot of acceptance, we love to share our know-how. Single posts and contents are being adopted by others, also in media. We have learned how to correctly make a citation; this we would wish from others in return as well. Please feel free to share the link – it is an informative tool to fight this pandemic.

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