The number of cases has recently risen alarmingly again, and physicians are concerned about the increasing occupancy rate in intensive care units. Experts attest - we are in the third wave of corona. According to new studies, the British virus mutant B.1.1.7, which is considered more dangerous, recently accounted for three quarters of new infections nationwide. To contain the corona pandemic, Austria continues to rely on rapid compliance with the vaccination schedule and close-meshed testing.
Despite a variety of measures, there is no end in sight to the covid 19 pandemic, even one year after the initial lockdown. Recent concerns have included not only vaccine supply shortages, but also the suspension of Astra-Zeneca vaccine in some European countries.
In Germany, where 1.6 million doses have already been vaccinated, seven cases of sinus vein thrombosis occurred. Although more than 9.5 million people have already been vaccinated in the United Kingdom, only three to four cases of sinus vein thrombosis occurred there. This may be a statistical problem.
This is because in the United Kingdom, older people were vaccinated with Astra Zeneca from the beginning, whereas in Germany there was initially no recommendation for people over 65 years of age. In addition, among those in the front rank of the vaccination schedule are medical personnel, including a relatively large number of women. Thromboses occur more frequently in middle-aged women.
A direct link between vaccination and the rare disease has not yet been established. According to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the National Vaccination Committee in Austria, the Corona vaccine is safe and therefore continues to be used in Austria. The few cases of blood clotting disorders are still being investigated. Experts warn of collateral damage should vaccination coverage of the population be further delayed. The advantages would outweigh the disadvantages.
British mutation B.1.1.7 on the rise
In the third wave of the COVID pandemic, the British mutation of the virus is now also prevalent in Austria. This variant is suspected of being more contagious and leading to greater utilization of intensive care units. Also in other European countries, the majority of infections are due to B.1.1.7.
In England, three studies have investigated whether the relative risk of death is increased when infected with the viral mutant compared with the virus of origin. In fact, all three studies come to a similar conclusion; in one, the relative risk of dying from COVID-19 within four weeks of a positive PCR test was increased by 67 percent compared to the first known form of the virus, and the other two studies also show an increase in the risk of death of just over 60 percent.
While, simply stated, patients under 69 years of age experience only an insignificant increase in absolute risk of death, those over 85 years of age are significantly more likely not to survive infection with the British virus mutant.
Complementary evidence also suggests that older people and those with pre-existing conditions are more likely to become infected with the virus. A special role is played here by retirement homes, where naturally many elderly people stay and in some cases they excrete the virus longer than usual due to poorer immune elimination. Among other things, this circumstance repeatedly leads to COVID clusters in the retirement homes.
The supply bottleneck of Astra Zeneca therefore does not fit into the national vaccination plan. The European Union was originally scheduled to receive 220 million doses by the end of the second quarter, but now only 100 million are to be delivered.
For this, the approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine called Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine could lead to a relief of the situation. The great advantage of the vaccine is that complete vaccine protection is already provided with a single vaccination. Austria has ordered 2.5 million doses, and now it is time to wait for delivery.
Antigen and PCR tests are being expanded
In the course of the pandemic, close-meshed testing has been increasingly used, in addition to lockdowns, contact restrictions and the wearing of FFP2 masks. For certain occupational groups, regular testing for SARS-CoV-2 has been a reality for some time. Since schools reopened in early February, attendance at classes is only possible with a negative self-test. Since then, the students have been performing antigen self-tests twice a week. These nose-picking tests have also been available free of charge at pharmacies since March 1, but are not considered entry tests for body-related services.
During the Easter lockdown in eastern Austria from April 1 to 18, two tests per week are mandatory in businesses if there is no home office option. For the time after the short lockdown over Easter in Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland, a re-testing in retail trade was originally planned, as it was already mandatory for the use of services close to the body. This plan was not included in the final regulation after all. At the moment it is still unclear when the school will resume face-to-face teaching.
FasTest - our offer
At FasTest you can get tested easily and quickly at our 6 locations in Vienna, Vösendorf and Linz. We offer:
Antigen rapid test - valid as an entry test for body-related services, result in 10 minutes, group testing for 10 or more people
PCR test (RT-LAMP test) - valid as detection for air travel, result in record-breaking 90 minutes to 7 hours at the latest, depending on location
Antibody rapid test - if you want to know if you have already passed an unnoticed infection, result in 15 minutes
You can find all details about our Corona test offerings in our test portfolio.