Things Looking Up in Europe & North America, Concerns About Asia

Every Sunday, Metropole brings you a COVID-19 update from Prof. Dr. Florian Krammer, an Austrian virologist who works and teaches at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Prof. Dr. Florian Krammer has been writing weekly updates in German for family and friends. Metropole was kindly granted the permission to translate and publish these updates.

May 1, 2021

Here again is our weekly SARS-CoV-2 update.

Worldwide, 152 million official SARS-CoV-2 infections have now been detected. 3,200,000 people have officially died from COVID-19 so far. Globally, we are currently on the strongest wave yet, driven by cases primarily from India and South America. 1.15 billion doses of vaccine have been administered so far.

Things Looking Up in Europe

In Europe, things are actually looking pretty good. Some countries are keeping case numbers very low and stable (UK, Portugal, partly Denmark). Many countries have decreasing numbers of cases, some are still in the middle of a wave – but at least infections are not going up anywhere.

Good News & Waves in the Americas

The US looks great, vaccination coverage seems to be making a difference there now. Canada is on the crest ofa wave, but the numbers are no longer going up. Cases in Mexico continue to go down. Central and South America are in the middle of a wave. But with a few exceptions (e.g., Costa Rica), case numbers are stable or falling.

Tense Asia

In Asia, the situation is a bit more tense.

Thailand is in the middle of the first wave, but the number of new cases seems to be decreasing. Infection numbers in Malaysia and Japan are on the rise. Pakistan also has a lot of cases at the moment, but is not seeing an increase in cases per day. The situation in India is extremely tense, as we know from the media, and I hope that the number of cases will stabilize soon.

Muddled Middle East

In the Middle East, the number of cases in Iran, Iraq and Turkey is decreasing. In individual states such as Bahrain and Egypt however, unfortunately, numbers continue to go up. Otherwise the situation is relatively stable. In Israel, the pandemic is basically over (less than 100 cases per day on average, with about the same population as Austria).

Stable Africa

In Africa, Cameroon and Angola have reported increasing numbers of cases. Cases in other countries are either going down or are low and stable. South Africa, by the way, is a country to watch. It is autumn now and they could hardly vaccinate. Let’s see if cases go up again.

Vaccines for the Young

Pfizer, by the way, applied last week for approval of the vaccine for 12-15 year olds in Europe. In the USA it should be approved for this age group soon.

Furthermore, the Brazilian regulatory authorities last week rejected the approval of Sputnik V. Among other things, because partially replicable adenovirus was found in the vaccine (which should not actually be replicable), but also for other reasons. This is not necessarily dangerous, but inconsistent with the product specification.

Stay healthy! Greetings!

Prof. Dr. Florian Krammer
Prof. Krammer is the Principal Investigator of the Sinai-Emory Multi-Institutional Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Center (SEM-CIVIC). Currently Prof. Krammer holds a position as a Professor of Vaccinology at the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He has published more than 100 papers, is member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Virology, Plos One and Heliyon and is a peer reviewer for more than 30 journals.

Current Status

We compiled for you a detailed guide on traveling to Austria during the pandemic.

If you live in Vienna, make sure to register for getting a vaccine against COVID-19 under impfservice.wien. If you already registered and it is the turn for your age or risk group, here you can book your vaccination appointment.

Vienna and Lower Austria have re-opened shops and services “close to the body” on May 3. 

Austria plans to open up the economy and society on May 19, with those vaccinated, tested negative or recently infected getting access to many places with a “green pass.” 

Here’s an overview of where you can get tested for COVID-19 in Vienna and how the free, weekly 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 published 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.