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.

June 27, 2021

Here again, with some delay, my biweekly coronavirus update.

To date, approximately 182 million official SARS-CoV-2 infections have been recorded worldwide, and 3,936,000 people have officially died from COVID-19. Nearly three billion doses of vaccine have been administered to date.

“Incredibly Good” Europe

Most of Europe is looking incredibly good. Case numbers are at rock bottom and even in Denmark, where cases have gone up somewhat due to the rapid opening, numbers are dropping rapidly.

But the delta variant (B.1.617.2), which is a lot more infectious, worries me. The variant has led to a sharp increase in cases in the UK (currently about 14,000 per day, up from 2,000 per day a few weeks ago) and cases are also going up in Portugal. This is something to watch now, because it could probably happen in the rest of Europe. In recent months, the UK and Portugal have been trendsetters.

In Russia, by the way, the situation does not look particularly rosy – partly driven by the Delta variant. Unfortunately, the vaccination rate there is also quite low.

Americas: Low in the North, High in the South

As in many countries in Europe, the number of cases in the US is also very low and currently stable. In Canada, the numbers continue to go down.

In Latin America, unfortunately, the situation is less rosy. In Mexico, the number of cases is rising slightly, while in Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, the numbers are falling somewhat. In Venezuela and Brazil, the numbers are constantly high, and in Colombia, unfortunately, the numbers are still rising.

Asia Battling the Waves

In India and Nepal, the numbers of cases are low again, Pakistan seems to be stable. But in Bangladesh, a wave is coming.

In Indonesia, unfortunately, the number of cases is also rising sharply and in Malaysia, the Philippines and Mongolia they are currently quite high (but falling).

The situation in Japan has calmed down and the situation in South Korea is incredibly stable. They’re consistently having about 500 cases a day. Thailand and Vietnam have cases, but the increases are not as huge as expected. And Taiwan is apparently getting its small outbreak under control.

Mixed Situation in the Middle East

Case numbers in Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are high but stable. Kuwait is up, Jordan is low and stable. In Egypt, case numbers are declining. Also Israel has now again recorded some cases caused by the Delta variant (about 150 per day at the moment). Morocco, Libya and Algeria have quite stable case numbers, but in Tunisia, case numbers are going up.

Concerns About Africa

In Africa, unfortunately, things are developing as well. South Africa is in the middle of a very strong COVID-19 fall wave – unfortunately, most of the population there is still unvaccinated. Strong increases were also recorded in Zambia, Namibia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Slighter increases or stable numbers of cases have bene recorded in Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal and Malawi.

Mixed Situation Globally

Globally, the situation is rather mixed.

Especially in some countries where only a small percentage of the population is fully vaccinated, the situation is not so good. Unfortunately, this is partly due to the delta variant, which – as mentioned above – seems to be more infectious.

The vaccines protect well against disease with the variant (mRNA 79-88% efficacy, AstraZeneca 60% efficacy), but transmission can also occur between AstraZeneca vaccinated people as was recently shown in India (the cases were mostly asymptomatic or mild – so not too much cause for concern). Therefore, the Delta variant must be taken very seriously.

However, the infection rates in Austria and Germany are currently very, very low, and vaccination rates are going up.

It is, therefore, to be hoped that we will come well over the summer.

I think we should all enjoy the summer (we have earned it), but it would be good if there is still a strong focus on contact tracing and if a plan for the fall – especially regarding schools – would be worked out.

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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.