From an international perspective, densely populated areas are sometimes very badly affected, to name two examples with New York and Madrid.

From an international perspective, densely populated areas are sometimes very badly affected, to name two examples with New York and Madrid.

From an international perspective, densely populated areas are sometimes very badly affected, to name two examples with New York and Madrid. And that’s why it’s surprising how well things have gone in Vienna so far. Certainly also because the right measures have been taken and because the Viennese are very disciplined.

All exceptional measures in Austria can be found here in detail

Has Vienna weathered the crisis well in a national comparison so far? It is too early to be able to say anything about it. So far the numbers in Vienna have been average. What was certainly good was that measures were taken right from the start, for example that tests were carried out at home and that people did not have to take the subway through the city and spend long hours in waiting rooms. In addition to the nationwide measures, we also know from a study by Wifo that there tend to be more workplaces that can work from home in Vienna than the national average, which could have significantly reduced the number of contacts since mid-March.

“Of course there is a possibility that the numbers will go up again.”

Do the current numbers lead to the misconception that Austria is already over the hill, to put it casually? Of course there is a possibility that the numbers will go up again, the virus is not gone. We still have some infected people, albeit at a pleasantly low level. The figures show that the number of those who have recovered is increasing and the number of new cases falling. This is a good trend, but of course there are still enough people in Austria who carry this disease and can infect it with it. This means that the spread can start again at any time and that will be exactly the exciting question of how to find mechanisms of coexistence in the next few weeks and months that prevent this spread and at the same time ensure the best possible economic and social life.

Also interesting:

COVID-19 infections in Austria

So it is better to concentrate on the measures than to look at the numbers? No, the numbers guide the type of action. High quality data is all the more important to recognize if Sars-CoV-2 flares up again in Austria. Due to the long incubation period, it is difficult to find out in time anyway. So the goal remains to find out quickly where something is happening so that we can act and contain it accordingly. So the data tends to become more important than less important.

About the person: Klemens Himpele, born 1977 in Emmendingen (Baden-Württemberg), studied economics in the social sciences at the University of Cologne. Since 2012, the Viennese by choice has headed the City of Vienna’s Department of Economics, Labor and Statistics.https://123helpme.me/

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Since the beginning of the

Corona crisis

Most of us follow the course of the number of cases on a daily basis. But how exactly are the statistics on the corona virus in Austria really? Klemens Himpele, chief statistician of the City of Vienna, explains in an interview with news.at how the figures for the

official Corona dashboards from the Ministry of Health

are to be evaluated.

Mr. Himpele,

in the last interview

Did you mean that statistics are often not contextualized in politics? Do you make an elephant out of a mosquito with the official Corona dashboard? The dashboard is an attempt to make data available in a timely manner. These data, which are updated several times a day, can hardly be of the quality that a proper statistical analysis should always have. There are two reasons for this: Firstly, in exceptional situations like the corona pandemic, the statistics are often not the focus of considerations – unfortunately. Second, official statistics require time for quality-assured processing, which of course was not available until now. Because we still know far too little about the virus, this not only applies specifically to the Austrian dashboard, dashboards from other countries should also be viewed with caution.

Which statement on the dashboard is the most surprising for you? On the one hand, recovered and dead people are not shown in the dashboard – they are already communicated in the media. The currently sick people are the infected minus the recovered and the deceased. That would be a very relevant figure.

On the other hand, the dashboard initially displayed the infected cases in the graphic according to political districts, which led to the distorted situation that Vienna with 1.9 million inhabitants was measured using the same yardstick as Rust with 1,979 inhabitants. This has now been corrected in the overview map and it is therefore clearly evident that the hotspots are in districts of Tyrol and the neighboring Alpine districts. However, this is of enormous importance for the planning of quarantine measures. Ultimately, of course, it has to be about containing the disease everywhere as well as possible

“It was certainly right to try to communicate the data quickly”

Does it make sense to play out data at such short notice or to make it publicly available so early? It’s difficult to judge. It was certainly right to try and communicate the data quickly. If only because the need for information in the population was and still is very high when it comes to the Corona issue. However, the dashboard has also been revised and in retrospect I’m not sure whether it wouldn’t have been wiser to wait a little and then go online with the correct version. But this is not to be understood as criticism.

In principle, I believe that a corresponding appreciation of the statistics and generally better data access would be desirable in Austria. In some cases, a better data situation would be desirable because statistics represent an important basis for democratic discourse. However, the question arises as to what the bigger problem is: whether the data is fuzzy due to the speed, or whether people are still finding it difficult to interpret the data correctly.

The current developments regarding the corona crisis in Austria

In your opinion, how meaningful is the dashboard in general, taking into account the lack of clarity of data due to its speed? I find it interesting that the numbers are very widely accepted and perceived as precise. In retrospect, it must be said that it would probably have been sensible to make the definitions clearer from the start. Probably the most prominent example is the question of who can be described as corona dead. It is now clear that everyone who died of or with the corona virus, i.e. all those who died with a positive test result, are counted. That said, we don’t know who actually died from the virus.

It is also not always clear how the sick are assigned to the individual federal states, according to test location or place of residence – or when a day begins and ends. In addition, the data is updated several times a day.

Is it possible to draw conclusions about the death rate from the corona virus in Austria? There is still no serious answer to that, because Statistics Austria’s properly processed death dates are always announced in the summer of the following year. Just to give an impression of the dimensions: In 2018, the most recent data available, 83,975 people died in Austria. That is an average of 230 people a day. In March 2018 there were 8,339 people or even 269 people a day on average. As the population tends to age, this number also increases.

According to current information, by the end of March 2019 we had 128 people who died with or from the corona virus. That is 1.5 percent of the March deaths from 2018. That should not put anything into perspective, but it makes it clear how difficult it is to read from the current data how high the excess mortality actually is, i.e. how many actually died from the virus and not with the virus. This can actually only be determined afterwards.

“There seems to be a problem with understanding that these absolute numbers are relatively insignificant if you don’t know what is behind them.”

Is there anything else that you think is missing from the official dashboard? The problem is that there is still a lot that is not exactly known. It seems relatively certain that the age structure of the population is a relevant key figure, because the disease progression is more severe in older people than in younger people. So if the virus hits a retirement home, it’s more serious than if it hits a group of young skiers. There seems to be a problem with understanding that these absolute numbers are relatively meaningless if one does not know what is behind them.

According to the current state of research, other relationships have not yet been finally clarified and therefore cannot be statistically represented. This applies to the topic of previous illnesses, but also other medical considerations, whether obesity or air quality are related to the corona virus. Therefore, of course, the information is also missing.

Would more tests be useful? In the great discussion about tests, for example, Michael Binder, the medical director of the KAV, pointed out that with a very low number of cases in Austria – one can assume at the moment – the problem is that no test is currently 100 Percent is reliable. If only 0.5 to 1 percent of the population is infected, as the Minister of Health reports, it is not helpful to test broadly: You would get more false-positive than really positive results. So there would be significantly more people with positive results who are not sick than actually sick.

As a result, this would take up enormous additional resources – that is, “contact tracing” in actually healthy but false positively diagnosed people – with little benefit. Therefore, the federal states mainly test people who are more likely to be infected than the average person.

How serious would they pay the numbers

Euro MOMO statistics

assess? What I said earlier for Austria also applies here: the real excess mortality rate will have to be considered retrospectively. You can only create mathematical models when you have clean data. The data from Euro-MOMO are still the best data available at the moment – for Austria it is data from AGES. Nevertheless, these are only snapshots that can reflect trends, but certainly not the absolutely correct numbers. “The problem is the uncertainty”

At the beginning of the previous years, the EuroMomo statistics do not look much different than they do now, sometimes even worse. Is Corona still a cause for concern from this point of view? If you look at the figures from the Diagnostic Influenza Network in Austria, the deaths associated with influenza in Austria fluctuate greatly – and deaths from Sars-CoV-2 can be superimposed in the statistics. In 2015/2016 there were an estimated 259 influenza-related deaths, followed by 4,436 deaths in 2016/2017. This shows that the gradients are also very different. Such effects then superimpose other phenomena such as Covid-19 in the death rates.

To avoid misunderstandings: I don’t want to compare COVID with influenza, I want to describe the data problem that results from the strong fluctuations. It is not yet clear whether the problem with Corona is the level of the death rate. The problem is uncertainty: we don’t know enough about the disease and we don’t have any vaccinations or effective treatment options – unlike influenza. It is correct that Austria has so far got through this pandemic without any problems. Let’s hope it stays that way.

For the time being, Vienna in particular seems to have got off lightly as Austria’s largest metropolitan area. How can this be explained? Historically, it was usually the case that cities were considered to have a major disadvantage in pandemics: the higher population density is an economic advantage, but diseases spread faster. Contact frequency is a crucial point that is very high in urban areas.

From an international perspective, densely populated areas are sometimes very badly affected, to name two examples with New York and Madrid. And that’s why it’s surprising how well things have gone in Vienna so far. Certainly also because the right measures have been taken and because the Viennese are very disciplined.

All exceptional measures in Austria can be found here in detail

Has Vienna weathered the crisis well in a national comparison so far? It is too early to be able to say anything about it. So far the numbers in Vienna have been average. What was certainly good was that measures were taken right from the start, for example that tests were carried out at home and that people did not have to take the subway through the city and spend long hours in waiting rooms. In addition to the nationwide measures, we also know from a study by Wifo that there tend to be more workplaces that can work from home in Vienna than the national average, which could have significantly reduced the number of contacts since mid-March.

“Of course there is a possibility that the numbers will go up again.”

Do the current numbers lead to the misconception that Austria is already over the hill, to put it casually? Of course there is a possibility that the numbers will go up again, the virus is not gone. We still have some infected people, albeit at a pleasantly low level. The figures show that the number of those who have recovered is increasing and the number of new cases falling. This is a good trend, but of course there are still enough people in Austria who carry this disease and can infect it with it. This means that the spread can start again at any time and that will be exactly the exciting question of how to find mechanisms of coexistence in the next few weeks and months that prevent this spread and at the same time ensure the best possible economic and social life.

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