At virtual.MEDICA 2020, he presented a lecture titled "How to predict the potential overload of health systems by COVID-19" in the virtual. MEDICA LABMED FORUM. In this MEDICA-tradefair.com interview, he talks about the role of biostatistics in the Covid-19 pandemic and reveals successful measures to manage the crisis.
Professor Klawonn, your research focuses on biostatistics. What is meant by that?
Prof. Frank Klawonn: Biostatistics are the statistical processes and methods applied to the collection, analysis, and interpretation of biological data and especially data relating to medicine. Statistical methods principally have general validity, but medicine presents unique challenges. Unlike technical systems, there are limited options to collect data and conduct experiments based on ethical issues alone. You can study identical technical systems. Apart from identical twins, this is not possible when it comes to human beings. We also frequently deal with a small number of cases but many variables, such as genes for example. Think of "personalized medicine" in this setting, which requires the analysis of ever smaller groups with more and more variables. My research group explores this set of problems.
How important is this approach in the current situation?
Klawonn: Statistical methods allow you to quantify the uncertainty associated with simulation models, which are used to forecast the spread of infection. However, the quality of forecasting depends largely on the data as there are many parameters to consider. For example, the reported daily new infection rates also depend on the number and types of tests. When you primarily test symptomatic individuals, the number of reported cases is obviously lower but yields a higher percentage of those who test positive compared to routine testing of specific occupational groups. Unfortunately, there is a lack of data on how many tests are attributed to preventive screening, how many positive tests that have been carried out in asymptomatic contacts and those tests that were performed due to symptoms. Data on infection clusters is also not directly available.