Effectiveness Over Time & Delta

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.

April 4, 2021

Happy Easter! We have just eaten our first Röhrlsalat (dandelion salad) from our roof garden. Of course with pumpkin seed oil.

Also this week, the COVID-19 update. So far, 131 million officially infected people have been registered around the world and about 2,861,000 people have officially died from COVID-19. The global trend in cases and deaths per day is again going up quite steeply. 652 million doses of vaccine have been administered to date.

Mixed Situation in Europe

Europe is mixed. The UK and Portugal are currently the model students. Norway and Finland have acted early enough and with still very low case numbers, they are now also stabilizing. Cases in Slovakia and Czechia are going down. In Denmark, there is an increase in cases, but not a particularly rapid one.

In Belgium, Slovenia, Switzerland and Spain, cases are starting to rise. All other countries are more or less in the middle of a wave (Austria, Germany, Hungary, France, Italy, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Sweden, the Netherlands, Croatia, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, etc.). In some cases this wave is stronger than the waves before it, in others, quite weak.

Hopefully they will all be over soon, some of them already look like it.

Upward Trend in the US, Brazil Over the Peak

In the US, cases are going up slightly, let’s see how this continues. Especially Michigan is seeing a strong increase in cases at the moment. Over here, it is now really about winning the race “vaccination against virus.”

Cases in Canada are going up a bit faster and unfortunately, they have a big local cluster with the P.1 variant from Brazil. Mexico is holding up well, cases continue to go down. Brazil seems to have reached the peak of the wave, with a record of almost 4,000 deaths per day last week. Central America and the Caribbean are pretty stable, but South America is largely going back up.

More Cases in South Asia, Otherwise Stable

In Asia, the Bangladesh-India-Pakistan region is seeing a very strong rise in cases, with numbers in the Philippines also going up. The rest of Asia is relatively quiet.

In the Middle East, case numbers in Turkey, Iraq and Iran are going up, Jordan is in the middle of a wave. The rest of the Middle East and the Maghreb is quiet. In Israel, infection numbers continue to go down, they are now at about 375 cases per day, despite opening up the economy (and still falling – Israel has about the same population as Austria).

In Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya continue to show stark rises in cases, numbers in Gabon and Cameroon are also going up. But most of Africa looks stable.

Excellent Vaccine News

This week there was some excellent news regarding vaccinations.

Pfizer has published first study results in 12-15 year olds via press release. The vaccine was apparently safe and effective (I’m waiting for the scientific publication, as usual). Pfizer has also announced that they will now apply for “regular” approval in the US. They now have data on protection over 6 months – and the vaccine remains highly effective with about 92% efficiency over that period. In addition, data on protection against severe courses of COVID-19 was also collected and 100% protection was observed. What was also shown is that the Pfizer vaccine really does protect against the B.1.351 variant, first discovered in South Africa.

Independently of the Pfizer data, the CDC has published a study showing that the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna also provide 90% protection against infections, not only against diseases. Very good data indeed.

Problematic Situation in Austria

There is nothing more to tell at the moment.

The situation in Austria is currently problematic, especially in regards to the utilization of intensive care units. However, the increase in cases is much less rapid than in the last wave. So we can only hope that the curve will flatten out soon.

I hope that was the last wave, and I also hope that vaccination will be faster soon.

I am very upset that so few vaccinations are taking place during the Easter break. You can’t dawdle now just because it’s Easter. By the way, New York City (population 8 million) set a vaccination record last Thursday – 93,000 people were vaccinated in one day. We also have vaccination centers that are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. One can only hope that the speed in Austria will pick up soon.

Stay healthy! Now it really doesn’t pay off to get infected!

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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 impfservice.wien.  Here you can book your vaccination appointment.

The City of Vienna offers free vaccinations without an appointment to everyone – regardless of citizenship, residency 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.