January 6, 2021
News from Austria
- The European Medicines Agency (EMA) granted a conditional marketing authorisation to the COVID-19 vaccine of US biotech company Moderna.
- The EU has ordered a total of 160 million Moderna vaccine doses.
- Austria is in line to get 2% or 3.2 million of those doses. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) expects 200,000 doses to arrive in the first quarter of this year.
- The vaccine is based on the mRNA technology just like the already approved Pfizer/Biontech vaccine, of which the EU has orderer 300 million doses and is currently negotiating for more.
- Austria will get 6 million doses of the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine, 800,000 of which in the first quarter of this year.
- Both vaccines proved an efficacy of 94-95% in advanced phase III trials with over 30,000 participants in each study.
- While the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine has to be stored in deep freeze conditions (-70° C) and can be stored in a fridge for up to five days, the Moderna vaccine can be stored permanently in fridges.
- Both vaccines have an excellent safety profile and both need two shots.
- The Pfizer/Biontech vaccine induced somewhat fewer immediate after effects (fatigue, headaches, soreness) after the vaccine jab than the more concentrated Moderna jab, but both are fundamentally safe and provide excellent protection against COVID-19.
- Moderna has promised to deliver between 500 and 600 million and vaccine doses globally in 2021, Pfizer/Biontech want to deliver between 1.3 and 2 billion.
- Austrian ministries reported 2,469 new infections in the last 24 hours.
- The 7-day-incidence rose to 170 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
- The number of active cases has also started to rise again and now hovers around 20,000 known cases.
- The number of tests increased massively and the infections that happened around Christmas and New Year’s Eve are now starting to show up in the statistics.
|Active cases||Hospitalized||In intensive care (ICU)||Deaths|
|Daily Tests||Recovered||Tested Positive|
Source: Austrian Ministry of Health, January 6, 2021.
- Vaccinations in elderly and care homes in Austria resume today January 6, with 21,000 vaccine jabs still planned this week.
- The government had faced harsh criticism about its original plan to continue vaccinating only on January 12, even though 60,000 vaccine doses are already in the country.
- ORF anchorman Armin Wolf questioned a spokesperson of the Ministry of Health yesterday harshly on the vaccination strategy, contributing to the change of course now.
- Among other things, Wolf pointed out that more than 20 people currently day every day in Austrian care homes and that neighboring Germany has already vaccinated five times more people, in relation to its population.
- In the interview, it also emerged that the government plans to complete Phase 1 – vaccinating everyone in elderly and care homes – at the end of February and expects Phase 2 – vaccinations for people older than 70 living at home – to get their jab no sooner than March.
- The 7-day-incidence in Austria has risen to 170 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
- A main driver of the higher infection numbers is currently the federal state of Salzburg, where the 7-day-incidence is almost double that of the Austrian average.
- While policymakers and observers are puzzled over the reasons for that, the village Kuchl in Salzburg – first to be put under quarantine this past autumn due to high numbers – has again become a coronavirus hotspot. Private parties might be the cause, say observers.
News from Elsewhere
- The German government and Länder (federal states) announced that the current lockdown would be extended to the end of January at the very least.
- Furthermore, citizens living in areas with a 7-day-incidence over 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants will not be allowed to move further than 15 kilometers from their place of residence – currently, this affects 67 districts throughout the country.
- Schools, restaurants, bars, shops and hotels will remain shut, parents get additional sick leave for taking care of their children if needed.
- The rules for people traveling to Germany from coronavirus risk regions (so currently practically all of Europe and the world) also face tougher restrictions: Starting on January 11, they will have to quarantine for 10 days and make a coronavirus test 48 before or after entering the country (a second test after 5 days can shorten the quarantine).
- In Germany just as in Austria, a debate over the slow pace of vaccinations is raging. Germany has vaccinated 316,962, five times more than Austria in relation to the population.
- The German government plans to push the 7-day-incidence below 50 before opening up again. The current plan of the Austrian government is to push the 7-day-incidence below 100 before opening up.
- The Netherlands started vaccinating their population as the last EU country today.
- Originally, the Netherlands had planned to start their vaccine rollout no sooner than January 18. After harsh criticism, the government now adapted its plans.
- The Japanese capital Tokyo is preparing to declare a state of emergency.
- The number of new infections reported in the 9-million-people metropolis on one day has risen to 1,591.
- Japan got so far through the pandemic with an exceptionally low number of cases and without a hard lockdown, with population, businesses and administrations taking many preventive steps to stop the spread of the virus in its tracks early on.
- Israel, star-performer in vaccinating its population, is currently struggling with a third coronavirus wave.
- More than 1.3 million or over 15% of the population already got their first vaccine jab in the Mediterranean country, a world record.
- At the same time, the number of new coronavirus infections has again been rising precipitously.
- Yesterday, the country reported 8,000 new cases in the preceding 24 hours in a country approximately the size of Austria (both Israel and Austria have just shy of 8.9 million inhabitants).
- A third lockdown is now likely to contain the virus and continue rapidly with the vaccination campaign.
- Israel plans to have vaccinated over 2 million people by the end of January, they will get a “green vaccine pass” for greater freedoms in daily life. By the end of May, the country plans to have vaccinated a majority of its population, thereby achieving herd immunity.
- China continues to delay giving a World Health Organization (WHO) delegation permission to enter the country and examine the origins of the coronavirus.
- The WHO has assembled the delegation more than a year after first reports on the outbreak of a mysterious lung disease around Wuhan, China.
- The team wants to visit Wuhan and surroundings, negotiations for the visit have been ongoing for months and are now again stuck.
- Chinese authorities have started to publicly doubt that the virus originated in China, referring to virus traces on frozen food items as proof.
Go to the next page for news from January 5.