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 8, 2021

Here again my biweekly COVID-19 update.

To date, 203 million people have been officially infected with SARS-CoV-2, and 4,303,000 million people have officially died from COVID-19. 4.41 billion doses of vaccine have been administered to date. Unfortunately, at the moment, globally, there is still a further increase in cases.

Interesting Situation in Europe

The situation in Europe is very interesting. On the one hand, we have countries where the number of cases rose sharply weeks ago (Great Britain, the Netherlands, but also Portugal, Spain, France, Greece), but which are holding up well all in all. In the UK and the Netherlands, case numbers have dropped quickly again, but the numbers seem to be settling at quite a high level (half of the peak of the wave in the U.K., a quarter of the peak in the Netherlands). In Portugal, the wave was basically never that strong and is also dropping, in France, Spain and Greece the waves also seem to have reached a plateau.

In Italy, the relatively small wave that started during the European Football Championship is already leveling off. The number of cases in Denmark seems to be quite stable after a small increase. In Ireland, Finland and Norway the number of cases is increasing, in Finland relatively fast. In other countries, the number of cases seems to rise very slowly (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Sweden, Romania, Serbia, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Croatia) or no increase has been seen yet (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia).

Russia unfortunately still has very high numbers of cases but also very high numbers of deaths. It is currently very difficult to predict what will happen, where cases will continue to rise, and what the situation will be in the fall.

The Delta wave was very unexpected. But what you definitely see is that the number of deaths per infection in countries with high vaccination rates is much lower than in previous waves. There is some decoupling occurring. That’s good, of course. However, there are still deaths, especially in the part of the population that is not vaccinated.

Sharp Increase in the US & Mexico

In the US, unfortunately, there is now also a sharp increase, driven mainly by southern states (although there is also an increase in the north, New York City had about 2,000 new cases yesterday). In Canada, case numbers are very low, but you can see an increase.

Mexico, meanwhile, is in the strongest wave since the pandemic began. In Central America, case numbers are also rising in some places, but in South America, the situation is now quite relaxed, they have consistently falling infection numbers.

Asia Facing Troubles

In Asia, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, and Malaysia are in the worst waves since the pandemic began, and Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines are also seeing increases again. Myanmar and Indonesia are just coming down from waves.

In South Korea, case numbers are at a plateau, looking high relative to previous peaks, but quite low relative to the total population. Indian case numbers also look stable. Singapore had a small wave, but it’s already subsiding. Hong Kong has basically everything under control and Taiwan has also brought the situation back under control.

Mixed Middle East, Waves in Africa

The situation in the Middle East is mixed, with many cases in Iran and Iraq and increases in Turkey and Lebanon. In Israel, cases continue to rise despite high vaccination coverage, but it looks like vaccination is protecting the people well there, especially against a severe course of the disease. Otherwise, it looks quite stable. In the whole Maghreb, unfortunately, there are many cases at the moment and sometimes also quite dramatic situations in the health system.

In Africa, unfortunately, many countries are in the middle of waves, or case numbers are rising (Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Mozambique, Ghana, Rwanda, Malawi, DRC, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mauritania, Guinea, Eswatini, Botswana, etc.). In other countries, the case numbers are coming back down (Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Cameroon, South Africa), unfortunately in South Africa this trend is slower than hoped.

More Next Week

I had promised to write more about vaccinations in children this week, but unfortunately have not gotten around to reading up well. I’ll make up for it next week (not in two weeks), I promise! I’ll probably write more about booster shots, too.

What I would like to mention, however: We are seeing more and more evidence that Delta can in some cases also infect vaccinated people or can be transmitted from vaccinated people to vaccinated people. These are often (though not always) asymptomatic infections that have no consequences. Against symptomatic infections, vaccine protection remains very good (and, of course, against severe disease). The US health authorities have therefore advised that even vaccinated people should wear masks indoors (supermarkets, public transportation, etc.).

So, see you next week. Stay healthy! And get vaccinated if you haven’t already.

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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.