German chancellor Angela Merkel has provided a thought provoking explanation about the risks of lifting lockdown restrictions too early while many nations consider reopening their economies as their cumulative coronavirus infection curves start to flatten.Merkel, who has a very strong scientific background and was awarded a PhD from the Academy of Sciences in Berlin, explains why she is hesitantly lifting some restrictions in Germany, a country that has been widely praised for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.In the viral video, Merkel explains in simple terms that the curve must become flat in order to not overburden healthcare systems (Germany has eight hospital beds per 1,000 people and 8.3 ICU beds per 1,000 people – the fourth highest in the world). As explained by Vox, she says that models show a reproduction factor (R0) of the coronavirus at about one, which represents the number of people a sick person will infect on average in a group that’s susceptible to the disease (meaning they don’t already have immunity).And what she illustrates in the video is how fine the margins between relative success and catastrophic disaster can be. If Germany’s R0 rose from 1.0 to 1.1 their healthcare system would be overburdened by October and if it rose to 1.2 it would be overburdened by July. The global average R0 for COVID-19 is between 2 and 2.5, while Germany has done an incredible job in shifting theirs to 0.7. This is also largely thanks to the fact that Germany has conducted 21 tests per 1,000 people, meaning they have a far better picture of the scope of the impact of the virus within their borders than many other countries.However, even a country that has handled the outbreak as well as Germany is susceptible to falling into a relapse that can be devastating.Merkel makes the point that leaders of nations around the world need to pay very close attention to what the reproduction factor is in their country, how quickly it can change, whether they have the healthcare capacity to handle a sudden spike and what the best time to reopen their economies and lift restrictions will be. And, unless they have access to comprehensive data like this (which many nations certainly don’t) it probably shouldn’t be considered at all.