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On 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.

May 16, 2021

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

So far, 163 million official SARS-CoV-2 infections have been recorded, 3,385,000 people have officially died from COVID-19 (The Economist recently wrote of 7-13 million excess deaths). The global trend in cases per day is downward. 1.43 billion doses of vaccine have now been administered.

Promising Trends in Europe

In Europe, there is little to complain about. Actually, cases in all countries – with very few exceptions – are on the way down (or already stable at few cases per day). The exceptions are Greece and Belarus where the downward trend is not yet so clear and Denmark where, surprisingly, the trend is rather upward (but slowly).

Otherwise, I am very satisfied. But Europe has some catching up to do as far as vaccination is concerned – “flotti Karotti” as my little niece always says. We have to use the time to prevent a new flare-up in the fall.

Positive Trend in North America, Strong Fall Wave in Latin America

In North America, the situation looks OK too. Cases in Canada are slowly on the way down (but it could go faster). The U.S. and Mexico are reporting steadily declining infection numbers – so it looks pretty good. The USA are basically opening up again now. In New York City, cases are also going down sharply, we had a new low of 391 cases yesterday (New York City has about the same population as Austria).

South and Central America are unfortunately in the middle of a strong fall wave. I hope that it will soon subside, but at the moment, it’s hardly going down anywhere.

Problems in Asia

Asia is the new problem child.

The situation in India and Nepal is terrible. However, a turning point is visible in India. Malaysia still sees a strong increase in cases. Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam are also seeing increased cases, and in Thailand, it’s a real wave.

Japan is also struggling with increases. Interestingly, Taiwan is now seeing cases as well. They were basically SARS-CoV-2 free for some time but now had a day with almost 200 cases. South Korea is still stable, Indonesia and the Philippines as well. Singapore has cases right now (mostly imported) and is responding quite drastically.

What you have to keep in mind here is that – apart from India, Malaysia, Nepal, etc. – the number of cases in countries like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, or Cambodia is still negligible compared to the size of the population and compared to Europe. They have done something right and we should learn from these countries.

Situation Slowly Improving in the Middle East

The Maghreb and the Middle East look OK, the numbers are stable or are decreasing in most countries. The exceptions are Egypt and Bahrain, where cases seem to be going up. Egypt seems to have quite a problem, I keep hearing that from friends who have family there. Israel is currently averaging about 30 cases per day and the number of COVID-19 deaths per day fluctuates between 0 and 1 on average.

Stable Africa

Africa looks stable with some exceptions. In Angola, the case numbers have increased further and in South Africa, there was also a slight increase – which could be the beginning of a fall wave. Good, that they could finally start vaccinating.

Vaccines for Children

So, apart from this global update, there is not much to say. The USA is now vaccinating children 12 years and older with the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine. Pfizer has applied for a “regular” license. As far as variants are concerned, B.1.617 and B.1.1.1 (C.37) are currently those that could become problematic – but the concern is not too big, at least as far as vaccines are concerned.

Since there is not much going on at the moment and I expect the situation to ease further, I will write this newsletter only every two weeks from now on. If the situation changes, I will of course write weekly again.

Go get vaccinated!

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

If you live in Vienna, make sure to register for getting a vaccine against COVID-19 under  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.


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.


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.


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.