January 10, 2020
And again today, the weekly COVID-19 update. We’ve had 90 million official SARS-CoV-2 infections and 1.9 million official deaths so far. If you look at the trend in the number of deaths per day, it is really scary. Some countries (UK, Mexico, Brazil, Germany) have over 1,000 deaths per day in some cases. The sad frontrunner is currently the US, with more than 4,000 deaths per day. There were this week again some days where we came close to 15,000 death per day worldwide. About 25 million people have been vaccinated worldwide.
Mixed Situation in Europa
In Europe, the situation is mixed. In some countries, the situation is down or stable, while in others it is rather dramatic. Great Britain, Spain, the Czech Republic, Portugal, etc. are showing strong increases in cases. France, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Belgium, Slovenia, Slovakia and Sweden seem to be stabilizing at a high level (the level varies). Serbia, Croatia, Denmark etc. are just coming down from a wave. Finland has leveled off at a level that others can only dream of (about 250 cases per day) and where contact tracing is probably effectively possible, Norway seems to have leveled off at about 500-750 cases per day.
Situation Still Deteriorating in the US, Americas
Unfortunately, the situation in the USA is even worse. There, the cases keep going slowly but inexorably always further up. This week, we had for the first time over new 300,000 cases per day and also already some times over 4,000 deaths per day. In New York City, too, cases are now going up rapidly. However, if you compare the number of deaths with the first wave (since we had little testing capacity at that time, you cannot directly compare the cases of infection), we are still in a very good position at the moment– but you have to bring the cases numbers down here in NYC as well. Infections numbers in Canada, by the way, are also going up steadily. South of the border in Latin America, unfortunately, cases are going up everywhere, including Mexico, Brazil (as mentioned above), Colombia, Argentina and much less strongly but still a little in Chile and Peru.
Stable Outlook in Asia, Varied in Africa, Middle East
Asia looks mostly good. There are a few problem children like Indonesia and Malaysia. The Philippines and India are quite stable, everything else looks quite good in general. Japan, however, seems to be losing a bit of control over the current wave. In contrast to South Korea, the Koreans have their little new peak already behind them and seem to get everything under control again.
In Africa and the Middle East, there are also some problematic countries, including South Africa, Israel and Egypt, where cases are rising sharply.
In Israel, one should soon see the effect of the vaccination, they have already vaccinated almost 20% of the population. I don’t assume that 20% of the population already leads to herd immunity, but of course, they vaccinated high-risk groups first and have already reached very high numbers there (of course it takes a while from the time of vaccination until immunity occurs). This should soon have an effect on the number of deaths. The situation is similar in Denmark, where only a small proportion of the population, but all residents of old people’s homes, have been vaccinated.
The Impact of the Vaccine
As mentioned above, about 25 million people worldwide have already been vaccinated, slightly more than half of them with the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. As a result, we now have a lot more safety data. The only serious side effects that have occurred so far have been severe allergic reactions, especially with people who have had severe allergic reactions in the past. There are about 11 cases per 1 million vaccinated. While this is a severe side effect, it can be treated and as far as I know all the people who have had this have recovered within a short time after treatment. So we are not talking about long-term damage. There is also currently nothing to suggest that “normal” allergy sufferers, people who are not prone to anaphylactic reactions, are affected.
By the way, I am asked again and again whether one should be vaccinated if one has autoimmune diseases, is being treated for cancer, takes immunosuppressive medication, etc.. For many situations, there is currently no data (as was also the cases for most other vaccines at the beginning). I assume there will be guidelines soon. What I would recommend is to handle the COVID-19 vaccine like other non-live vaccines (influenza, hepatitis, TBE etc.). If you tolerate them well and they are recommended, you should have no problem with the COVID-19 vaccination. But of course you should always consult with your doctor.
By the way, I have now been vaccinated on Wednesday. How did I feel? About 6 hours after the vaccination, my arm started to hurt slightly at the injection site. After 24 hours it was gone again. I am looking forward to the second dose, which I will receive on January 26.