CoV on December 16 | Austria to Receive 900,000 Pfizer/Biontech Vaccine Doses in Q1, Kurz Says

The coronavirus is shaping our lives. Here’s everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Austria on December 16, 2020 – updated regularly.

Reporting on COVID-19 in Austria is brought to you by Benjamin Wolf, Amina Frassl & Daniel El-Sabeh.

Find here all the daily coronavirus updates for Austria and Vienna, with everything you need to know about COVID-19.

We’ve also written a detailed overview of how Austria will open up after the second lockdown.

Here is a wrap-up of the measures currently in place in Austria.

December 16, 2020

  • Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) said that he expected 900,000 doses of the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine to be delivered for use in Austria in the first quarter of the next year.
    • According to the report, 240,825 doses are scheduled to arrive in January, to be followed by 331,500 doses in February and 375,375 more in March.
    • That would be enough to vaccinate 450,000 people across Austria (5% of the population).
    • While only a beginning, this could help to protect the population that is most at-risk from the virus, especially the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions.
    • “Preparations for the use of the vaccine in Austria are in full swing,” Kurz said and spoke of the vaccine as a “game changer” in the pandemic response.
    • While the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine looks likely to be the first to be approved in the EU (probably on Dec. 21/22), the Moderna vaccine may also get approval shortly thereafter.
    • As the EU and Austria have also ordered doses from Moderna, the entire of supply of vaccine in Q1 2021 may potentially even exceed those 900,000 secured doses.

  • The WHO has advised people who plan to celebrate Christmas with their families to wear masks indoors.
    • This advice has to be seen in the context of the relaxation of measures in many countries of the Christmas holidays.
    • If people from several households meet – in Austria, for example, a maximum of 10 people from 10 households are allowed to meet on December 24-25 – wearing masks is advised.
    • The WHO warns that too many relaxations and mixing of households can lead to an upsurge in cases in January and February 2021.

  • Parallel to the vaccination campaign in Austria, an “electronic vaccination record” will be launched.
    • Until today, the classical yellow paper vaccination card (Impfpass) recorded all vaccinations for citizens.
    • The federal states of Styria and Vienna have announced that they will roll out the new e-Impfpass parallel to the start of the anti-Corona vaccine campaign.

  • In the United Kingdom, 138,000 people have received the vaccine so far.
    • 108,000 people in England, 18,000 people in Scotland, 8,000 in Wales and 4,000 in Northern Ireland have been inoculated this last week, as the UK Minister for Business & Industry and COVID Vaccine Deployment tweeted.
  • Clemens Martin Auer, special envoy for vaccinations in Austria’s Health Ministry, has said that the country could start to vaccinate “immediately” after approval and the first delivery of vaccine doses.
    • A recommendation for approval of the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is now widely expected to be given on December 21.
    • Following that, Auer expects the first delivery of 10,000 vaccine doses (enough for 5,000 people) to Austria on December 23-24 or, due to the holidays, latest on December 28.
    • According to him, Austria could then start to vaccinate at-risk groups immediately.
    • The first vaccinations will take place in care homes in Vienna and Lower Austria. Auer said they were chosen for “logistical reasons” and the next tranches will then be distributed “across all of Austria,” with vaccinations happening in parallel.
    • Auer expects the delivery of further 230,000 vaccine doses (for 115,000 people) in January.

  • Austrian ministries reported 2,664 new infections in the last 24 hours.
    • After falling for several weeks, the 7-day-incidence is now again increasing and rose to 213 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants.
    • The number of known active cases fell, as did the number of hospitalized patients and patients in ICU. The number of daily deaths was now the second day in a row well over 100 and thus one of the highest in the pandemic so far.

Cases Overview

Active casesHospitalizedIn intensive care (ICU)Deaths
Total34.5373,4105484,764
Daily change-744-114-25+116
in percent-2.1%-3.2%-4.4%+2.5%
Daily TestsRecoveredTested positive
Total28,747291,042330,343
Daily change+7,710+3,292+2,664
in percent+36.6%+1.1%+0.8%

Source: Austrian Ministry of Health, December 16, 2020.

  • With the CoV crisis curfews, domestic violence has also increased. What is striking here is that the increase of violence against children is the reason for most of the restraining orders.
    • The number of restraining orders remained effectively the same this year, at 916 cases, but violence appears to be increasingly directed at children.
    • Maria Sorgo, head of the Violence Protection Center in Styria says that rising stress levels due to the psychological effect of the restriction is the main cause
  • Older schoolchildren and teachers will have to continue wearing masks during classes for the remainder of this semester.
    • Education Minister Heinz Faßmann (ÖVP) said that a repeal of the mask mandate “would be a very optimistic prognosis” which is not warranted giving the current pandemic situation.
    • Faßmann confirmed that the school holidays will be extended until January 10, with January 11 the first school day in the new year.
    • Before school starts again, mass tests for teachers and students should minimize the risks at schools.
  • Germany enters a hard lockdown today, closing shops, schools, restaurants, bars, hotels, gyms.
    • The strict rules will be valid from today, December 16, until at least January 10.
    • Germany reported over 27,000 new infections yesterday, in a country with about ten times the population of Austria. German ministries also reported 950 deaths.

  • The number of newly reported coronavirus cases in Israel has once again breached a threshold seen as critical by the government.
    • Ministries reported 2,862 new cases within 24 hours. A mere week ago, only 1,863 new cases had been reported.
    • Israel was one of the first countries to experience a second wave and to lock down hard to contain it.
    • With numbers now rising again, new restrictions may be in the offing to control or contain a third wave of the virus.


On the next page, you find an overview of all measures currently in place in Austria.

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Benjamin Wolf
Benjamin studied Journalism, History and International Affairs. After stints with Cafébabel in Paris and Arte in Strasbourg, he is now working as managing editor and COO for Metropole in Vienna. Fields of expertise are politics, economics, culture, and history. Photo: Visual Hub

Current Status

If you live in Vienna, make sure to register for getting a vaccine against COVID-19 under impfservice.wien.  Here you can book your vaccination appointment.

The City of Vienna offers free vaccinations without an appointment to everyone – regardless of citizenship or insurance status – at multiple locations across the city. 

Vienna has reinstated a number of coronavirus restrictions for the fall. The Austrian government has presented a plan for schools and universities.  

Here’s an overview of where you can get tested for COVID-19 in Vienna and how the free PCR “gargle” tests at home work. 

If everything is a bit much for you or you experience domestic violence of any kind, here is our mental health resource article.

Numbers

For current coronavirus numbers, check the website of Ministry of Health and the AGES dashboard.

The Austrian Ministry of Health also publishes daily vaccination statistics and a preview of scheduled deliveries.

Resources

The City of Vienna has compiled comprehensive information on questions and answers regarding coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease in English.

The Austrian Ministry of Health has put together FAQs on the coronavirus and also provides material to download on how to protect yourself and others from the disease, also in English.

Furthermore, the ministry will constantly update its German-language website with information on the number of people tested and cases of COVID-19 in Austria.

Hotlines

Health advice by telephone1450

If you show symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties) or fear that you are ill, stay at home and dial health number 1450 for further procedures (diagnostic clarification).

Coronavirus hotline AGES+43 0800 555 621

The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) answers questions about the coronavirus (general information on transmission, symptoms, prevention) 24 hours a day at +43 0800 555 621.

VKI hotline for travel law questions+43 0800 201 211

For legal questions concerning trips that have already been booked (e.g. whether a trip can be cancelled free of charge), the experts of the Association for Consumer Information (VKI) provide advice free of charge from Monday to Sunday between 09:00 and 15:00 at +43 0800 201 211.