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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.

March 7, 2021

Here again is the weekly COVID-19 update from today’s very sunny New York.

So far, 117 million infections have been officially registered and 2.6 million people have officially died from COVID-19. The number of cases and deaths per day is currently stable globally, the downward trend seen until recently has not continued. To date, 299 million doses of vaccine have been administered.

Resurgence of Cases in Europe

In Europe, there is a resurgence of cases in many countries.

In some countries like Germany, Sweden, Austria, France, the Netherlands, this is so far only a modest trend. In other countries it is already another wave (Italy, Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Hungary, etc.). In other countries like the UK, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Croatia, Portugal, etc., the trend of new cases is either going down or the countries are holding up quite well at a stable and quite low level.

Let’s see how that continues. I assume there will be another wave in Austria as well. The only question is how strong it will be.

Mixed Situation Around the World

In the U.S. and Canada, little is happening. The numbers are stagnating and it doesn’t look like they will go down any further.

The situation in Latin America is mixed. In Mexico, the cases continue to go down, so it looks pretty good. Cases in Brazil continue to go up, they are currently setting new records, unfortunately. Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia and many Central American countries are stable, Chile and Peru are experiencing waves again.

In Asia there is not much new. India, Pakistan and the Philippines have seen moderate increases in cases, everywhere else looks pretty good.

In the Middle East and Maghreb, the situation is mixed. Cases in Turkey, Iran, Jordan, and Iraq are going up, many others are stable. Cases in Israel are also going down, especially the number of dead is falling rapidly there.

In Africa, as almost always, the situation is quite stable. Cases in Ethiopia, Kenya and the Ivory Coast are going up. In a few other countries like Cameroon it looks like cases might start going up, but I can’t really make a statement about that because the data is not good enough.

Vaccines for Schwaz & Investigation in Zwettl

The inhabitants of the district of Schwaz in Tyrol, where the most B.1.351 cases have been found, will be fully vaccinated with the Biontech-Pfizer vaccine, which I think is very good. The vaccine does not come from the Austrian contingent but was provided by the EU, so Schwaz is not taking anything from other provinces.

A nurse in Zwettl died of a blood clotting disorder 10 days after being vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. A colleague had to be treated promptly in hospital for a pulmonary embolism. This is causing quite a stir and is, of course, being investigated.

At the moment, there is no causal connection to the vaccination, which, by the way, has been used millions of times worldwide. To be honest, I can’t imagine a direct connection either. In any case, the specific batch of vaccine has been withdrawn as a precaution until the investigations are completed, but other batches will of course continue to be used.

That’s it for this week.

Stay healthy!

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 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.