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.

May 30, 2021

Here again is the now bi-weekly COVID-19 update.

Up until now, 170 million official SARS-CoV-2 infections have been detected, 3,550,000 people have officially died from COVID-19 – but probably the number of unreported cases for both numbers is much higher (estimates based on excess mortality indicate that about 7-14 million people have died from COVID-19 worldwide). Globally, daily infection rates are declining. 1.84 billion doses of vaccine have been administered to date.

Cases Going Down in Europe

Across Europe, with few exceptions, cases are going down and it looks very good. The exceptions are Spain (slight increase), the UK (slight increase due to B.1.617), the Netherlands and Greece (still quite high), and Denmark (linear increase, probably due to the opening policy). In general, however, the trend is very positive.

Sharp Downward Trend in the U.S., High Cases in Latin America

In the U.S., caseloads continue to go down sharply (the 7-day average is now lower than it has been since April 2020), and in Canada now too. Mexico is seeing a very slight increase but currently has low case rates. Central and South America, unfortunately, continue to struggle with increases in cases per day – the situation doesn’t look good right now. Unfortunately, most of them were caught unvaccinated by the winter season.

Mixed Situation in Asia

In Asia, the situation is mixed. India is slowly improving, the number of cases is going down. Nepal seems to be over the hill. Unfortunately, cases in Malaysia are still going up rapidly. In Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan, the number of cases is also increasing. I still hope that Taiwan can stop the current outbreak.

South Korea is stable (at a low level), the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia also (although there was an increase in the Philippines in the last few days – we have to wait and see how this develops). Case numbers in Japan are going down.

Challenges in the Middle East & Africa

The Middle East and Maghreb look OK, though Egypt has very high case rates and there are increases in the Emirates, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. Israel is now averaging 21 cases per day (about the same population as Austria, 58% vaccination coverage).

South Africa is currently experiencing higher increases – probably because it is winter there. The vaccination coverage is unfortunately low in South Africa. South Africa shows what could happen in Europe in autumn if too few vaccines are administered. Zambia, Namibia, Uganda, and Angola are also seeing increases. I hope this is not the beginning of a bigger wave in Africa.

Vaccine & Variant News

There is also some news on vaccines: From Qatar, we now have good numbers on the B.1.351 variant. The protection of the Biontech-Pfizer vaccine against this variant seems to be 75%, which is very good. Figures from the UK also show that AstraZeneca (60%) and Pfizer (88%) protect well against the B.1.617 variant from India. As you may have heard, the Pfizer vaccine is now approved starting from age12, Moderna’s vaccine will probably be the next to have the age lowered.

There is also news on the variants. B.1.617 (first discovered in India) seems to be quite infectious and is responsible for the current increase in cases in the UK. However, the vaccines protect against it. An interesting new variant has also emerged in France, but does not seem to be spreading very quickly. And then a new, apparently more infectious variant has been discovered in Vietnam – I’ll keep you posted on that. But there are also variants disappearing (B.1.427/429, B.1.526 etc. B.1.351 also seems to be on the decline).

There seems to be enough vaccine available in Austria and Europe now.

Go vaccinate!

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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.