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.

August 31, 2021

Here is the weekly COVID-19 update (and from now on again in regular intervals).

So far, 217 million official SARS-CoV-2 infections have been registered, and 4.5 million people have officially died from COVID-19. 5.2 billion doses of vaccine have been administered so far.

Mixed Situation in Europe

In Europe, the situation currently looks very mixed, but not as bad as the atmosphere that has become dominant in the media regarding the Delta variant recently. Many countries, especially in the former East, still record hardly any cases and no delta wave or very small increases (Poland, Ukraine, Czechia, Hungary, Slovakia etc.).

In Austria, Germany, Sweden, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Switzerland, we can see a relatively rapid increase in cases at the moment. In Norway and Finland, case numbers are now higher than ever before in the pandemic, although Finland seems to be over the peak (but keep in mind that they have always held up very well). In France and Spain, case numbers are falling. In Italy, Belgium, Denmark, but also in Ireland and Portugal, case numbers are relatively stable. In the United Kingdom, unfortunately, the numbers are rising again.

In Russia, but also in Greece, the number of cases per day is relatively high. In general, the number of deaths in relation to the number of cases is low compared to previous waves – which is probably due to the vaccination coverage rates in those countries. In Europe, because of the different starting points, it is very difficult to make predictions at the moment.

Rising Cases in the Americas

In the US, case numbers continue to rise, but by now only moderately. The number of cases is quite high, especially in the south of the US, the northeast is much less affected. In New York City, case numbers now seem to have stabilized at about 2,000 cases per day over the last two weeks. Cases are also beginning to rise in Canada, though the numbers are not yet particularly high.

Mexico seems to be coming down from the delta wave but case numbers there are still very high (here, the last wave was the strongest of the pandemic). In Central America, case numbers are on the rise in some countries. But the good news is that the situation overall in South America is very good. Even in Brazil, the number of cases is now going down sharply.

Concerns in Asia

The situation in Asia is, unfortunately, less good. The Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, etc. are experiencing quite strong waves of infections. India is stable, case numbers in Bangladesh and Indonesia are falling.

South Korea is experiencing a new wave that has stabilized at about 1,700 new cases per day. This is the strongest wave in the country so far. Just for comparison – they have 51 million inhabitants (Austria, with 8.9 million inhabitants, is currently recording about 1,300 cases per day). South Korea is still one of the countries that managed the pandemic excellently so far. One should perhaps take a closer look at the South Korean strategy and copy it.

Improving Situation in the Middle East, Africa

In the Maghreb, the situation looks better.

Morocco has high but decreasing case numbers, Algeria and Libya are also recording decreasing case numbers. The situation in Tunisia seems to be stable. In Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Turkey, Lebanon, Oman, and Kuwait, infection numbers are either stable or falling.

Iran and Iraq have high but declining case numbers. In Egypt, Palestine, but especially in Israel, the case numbers are rising, quite rapidly in some cases at the momen. This is of course worrying in Israel, but it also shows that a vaccination rate of about 60% is not enough to stop infectious variants like Delta.

There is not much news from Africa.

South Africa still has a relatively high number of cases, Ethiopia is recording a rapid increase in the number of infections. Nigeria, Kenya, and Botswana have gone through waves and are now recording decreasing case numbers. Otherwise, the situation is relatively quiet.

What else is new?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now approved the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine on a regular basis for everyone 16 and older. This is no longer an emergency approval, but a normal approval, as with other vaccines. I hope this has a positive effect on the willingness to vaccinate in the U.S., we’ll see.

I’ll be back in two weeks with more updates on delta and booster vaccinations – and maybe there will be data from the Pfizer study on vaccines for children.

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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.