How did psychology save your life

Aim of the protective measures: Why compliance can save lives

The aim of the protective measures is to slow down the spread of the coronavirus in Germany and to stretch the curve of the infected ("Flatten the Curve"). If we as a society and as an individual adhere to the protective measures, we will make a contribution to ensuring that the German health system is not overloaded and that lives can be saved. The Federal Ministry of Health summarizes this as follows:

"Those who protect themselves protect us all."

If it is possible to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the total number of infected people is almost the same, but spread over a longer period of time. The protective measures are aimed at preventing a large number of people from becoming seriously ill at the same time. If a large number of people became seriously ill at the same time and were dependent on inpatient or even intensive care treatment, this would lead to a bottleneck in the healthcare system. For example, there would no longer be enough hospital beds or medical or nursing staff available to adequately care for the sick. In the worst case, not all patients could be cared for. This would also mean an additional burden for the helpers who are already working to their limits.

Do the protective measures show the hoped-for effect?

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen investigated this using a model calculation. This showed that the protective measures are apparently having the desired effect. The number of new infections would increase much more slowly since the first weekend in April and seriously ill people could still receive the best possible care. The researchers cite the contact ban as the reason for the significantly slower increase in German corona infections. Viola Priesemann, who heads a research group at the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen, states:

"We see a clear effect of the contact ban on March 22nd, and of course the contribution from every single person."

However, the calculations also show: Social contacts have to be kept to a minimum for at least two weeks in order to actually get the corona pandemic in Germany under control. So the data are encouraging - but still provide no all-clear represent.

Viola Priesemann continues:

"If the restrictions are lifted now, we will be back at the very beginning."

"We see very clearly: The number of cases in two weeks depends on our behavior now."

In summary, compliance with the protective measures can ensure that all seriously ill people can be adequately cared for - As a result, everyone can help save lives by observing them! In addition, compliance with the protective measures leads to a relief of the health system and thus to a relief of the medical and nursing staff. However, in order to continue to relieve this burden and to ensure adequate care for the sick, it is absolutely necessary to continue to adhere to the applicable protective measures!


This is a contribution from Katharina Christine Kühn,B.Sc. Psych, cand. M.Sc. Psych and Nina Abel,B.Sc. Psych, cand. M.Sc. Psych, student assistant, clinical psychology, JLU Giessen