January 3, 2020
Here’s my weekly coronavirus update again. There have been 85 million official SARS-CoV-2 infections and 1,847 million official COVID-19 deaths to date. While the number of cases per day is only increasing slightly, we are unfortunately in a very bad position globally. For the first time, there were more than 15,000 deaths in a single day last week. More than 12 million people have been vaccinated globally so far.
Bad Direction in Europe
In Europe, unfortunately, cases are going up again in many countries (Great Britain, Spain, France, Italy, Czech Republic, etc.). In Germany, things are starting to look a little better in terms of new infections, but there, unfortunately, the number of deaths per day is now at a record level. In Austria, the case number continues to go down, also the number of deaths is slowly decreasing. However, the numbers are still skewed by the holidays. In the coming weeks, we will see what the situation really looks like.
Dire Situation in the Americas
The USA is unfortunately also setting new records. Last week, there was a day with more than 3,800 deaths. 0.1% of the US population has now died from COVID-19 (for comparison: about 0.04% of the German population, about 0.07% of the Austrian population, about 0.008% of the Norwegian population and 0.09% of the Swedish population have died from COVID-19 so far). In New York, the level of new cases and deaths is also high, but not at all comparable to the spring numbers (I would say about 20-25% of what we saw in the spring). Further south, unfortunately, the cases are rising again and almost everywhere in Latin America.
Stable Asia & Little Change in Africa
Asia looks better. South Korea seems to be getting everything under control again. Japan is still going up, but it also looks like the number of new cases are leveling off. Malaysia is going up quite a bit, Indonesia is also increasing. The rest of Asia is pretty much unchanged. The same goes for the Middle East (Israel is heading into a third wave there). A few African countries (Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Senegal, etc.) are also going up.
About the vaccinations: They started now in Austria, even if only with a few doses. The RNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) have meanwhile been administered to 4.2 million Americans, about 1 million Britons, about 1 million Israelis (more than 10% of the population – hats off! – they will soon have control of their country back), about 200,000 Germans, about 100,000 Canadians, etc. So far there have been a handful of allergic reactions (I know of 8), so you can say the vaccine maintains its pretty good safety profile.
Next week, the Moderna vaccine will probably be approved in the EU. It is almost identical to the Pfizer vaccine and works just as well, so I wouldn’t worry about getting the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, AstraZeneca’s vaccine has also now been approved in the UK. The vaccine is known to work, but it is unclear how well. Since the British authorities are much less transparent than the US authorities (who made all data public before approval), I can’t say what the data situation looks like at the moment. But I assume that the British authorities will release the data soon.
Until then, I recommend the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, if you can choose.
The Mutant Version
On virus variants: The data are thickening. It seems that the British variant is more infectious, but neither causes more severe diseases nor is it resistant to the vaccine. Despite the higher infectivity, the virus can of course be stopped with masks and distance just as well as the old variant. So, as I said, there is no need to panic here. There are other variants (for example, a South African one) that need to be looked at, but there, too, the first thing to do is to look at the data before getting overly worried.
There is nothing more to say this week. I will be vaccinated on Wednesday (finally!!!). I will tell you then how it was.
Best regards and Happy New Year!