A new study from the Netherlands has found that the high number of blood donors in the study who had developed antibodies fighting the coronavirus might indicate that the case fatality rate in the nation is dramatically lower than may have been surmised.
As of Thursday night, Johns Hopkins University reported the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Netherlands was 29,383, with 3,327 deaths. That would result in an 11.3% case fatality rate. But the study reported that roughly 3% of the Dutch blood donors in the study had developed antibodies for the coronavirus. The Netherlands has a population of 17.28 million people. Thus if one extrapolates from the study, 3% of that number would equal roughly 518,400 people, meaning the case fatality rate would plunge in dizzying fashion all the way from 11.3% to 0.6%.
The Daily Mail notes, “Although the population of the US is more than 10 times that of the Netherlands, the infection rates of the two countries are somewhat closer together, differing by about 18 percent (0.20 percent of the U.S. population has caught coronavirus, compared to 0.17 percent of the Dutch population).”
If 3% of the American population of 328 million had caught the coronavirus, that would number roughly 10 million people; with 33, 286 deaths currently confirmed by the coronavirus, that would mean a case fatality rate of roughly 0.3%.
The head of the Netherlands’ National Institute for Health (RIVM), Jaap van Dissel, stated in the Dutch Parliament, “This study shows that about three percent of Dutch people have developed antibodies against the coronavirus. You can calculate from that, it’s several hundred thousand people.”
The Dutch government advised people to stay at home unless they had to go to work or buy groceries while keeping five feet away to socially distance from others; the plan was for the country to develop a herd immunity to the coronavirus. The BBC reported, “One survey suggested 99% of people kept their distance and 93% stayed at home as much as possible.”
Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated on March 16, “We can delay the spread of the virus and at the same time build up population immunity in a controlled manner … We have to realise that it can take months or even longer to build up group immunity and during that time we need to shield people at greater risk as much as possible.”
Rutte later called the Netherlands a “grown-up country,” adding, “What I hear around me is that people are glad that they are treated as adults, not as children.”
Dr. Louise van Schaik of the Clingendael Institute of International Relations stated, “We think we’re cool-headed. We don’t want to overreact, to lock up everybody in their houses. And it’s easier to keep the generations apart here, because grandpa and grandma don’t live at home with their children.”
Professor Aura Timen from the Dutch public health agency RIVM commented on the herd immunity concept, “It’s kind of like creating your own internal vaccine, by being exposed to it and then letting your body generate those antibodies naturally, to turn into a vaccination which doesn’t yet exist.”