Despite the fact that few countries have rolled out massive screening campaigns, most of the countries face critical shortages in terms of available tests and laboratory capacity. In the case of France, approximately 150,000 tests are performed on a weekly basis (currently targeting 500,000/week) while in Germany 500,000 tests are already performed per week. The massive testing explains both the high number of cases detected in Germany and particularly their low case fatality rate (0.3% in Germany, compared to 4% globally and 2.2 % in France) . According to the latest report from the modelling team at Imperial College London, published at the end of March, no less than 3% of the French population has already been contaminated by Covid-19. Or 2 million French people. A figure much higher than the 50,000 confirmed cases identified at the end of last month by the Directorate General of Health . This is a forty times (40x) difference between the confirmed cases and the potential spread of the disease in the population.
Protecting public health is the current primary issue for all EU countries. That said, policy makers need to find a balance between protecting the population against the pandemic and protecting the economy to limit the negative effects. Within that context, the return of the active population to their work is a primary issue and has to be addressed as soon as possible. As a solution to this challenge, EU countries are evaluating several de-confinement strategies that are primarily based on the broad use of COVID-19 tests. However, in most countries only severe cases of the disease are tested which can lead to an underestimation of cases. In the transition towards elevating confinement measures, the lack of testing capacity could pose high risks in implementing a well-informed strategy for deconfinement. As seen on the graph, there is a direct correlation between the tests performed and the confirmed cases.