Coronavirus News Briefing – Dec. 12: Austria Ends Lockdown for Vaccinated Individuals

By Paul Riegler on 12 December 2021
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A Würstel Stand in Vienna’s City Center

Austria officially ended its three-week lockdown for vaccinated individuals, although a full lockdown continues for non-vaccinated people.

Since the start of the lockdown, the number of new cases in the Alpine nation has plummeted.  On Friday, health officials there  reported 367.5 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, down from 1,102.4, the figure on the first day of the lockdown in November.

Meanwhile, the omicron variant has been found in wastewater in both California and Colorado, scientists in the two states said. The detection indicates the likelihood of low-level community spread.

In Italy, La Scala announced that it would postpone the start of its ballet season after members of its 14 cast and crew tested positive for the coronavirus.  The opera house’s resident ballet company was scheduled to open the season this Wednesday with a performance of “La Bayadére,” a 19th century Russian ballet that tells the story of the bayadére Nikiya and the warrior Solor, who have sworn eternal fidelity to one another.

Four ballerinas and ten members of the stage crew tested positive, officials at Teatro alla Scala said in a statement.

The production will begin performances on December 21.

Performances of the new Broadway show “Mrs. Doubtfire,” which opened were cancelled Sunday after at least one person involved in the production tested positive for the coronavirus.  The show opened at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre December 5.   The musical had begun preview performances in March 2020, playing only three shows before the pandemic shuttered all Broadway houses. 

“Mrs. Doubtfire” is expected to resume performances on December 14, according to the show’s official website.

Finally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, whose data are presented in this Briefing on a daily basis, said in a footnote covering how it “estimates vaccination coverage,” that its data might overestimate the number of people who have received a first dose of vaccine while underestimating the number who received a booster shot.  The CDC said this would happen because it receives vaccination data without personally identifiable information and an individual receiving a first dose of vaccine in one jurisdiction would then receive a second “unique person identifier” if the second dose or booster were given in a different jurisdiction.

As of Sunday morning, the world has recorded 270.2 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.3 million new cases, and 5.3 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 242.9 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.5 million.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 119,325, a 40% increase.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 1,288, an increase of 28% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Sunday, recorded 50.8 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 817,824. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just shy of 34.7 million, and a reported death toll of 475,434.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 616,859, and has almost 22.2 million cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Sunday, 238.7 million people in the United States – or 71.9% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 60.7%, or 201.7 million people, are now fully vaccinated, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 482.7 million. Breaking this down further, 84.2% of the population over the age of 18 – or 217.6 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 72% of the same group – or 186 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 28.4% of that population has already received a booster shot.

Some 56% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, a figure that is up 1 percentage point from the prior day, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 8.45 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 7.1% of people in low-income countries have received one dose, while in countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at least 65% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine. In countries such as Ethiopia, Haiti, Syria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.

Figures from the World Health Organization show that well-off countries are vaccinating people at the rate of one person per second, while the majority of poor countries have yet to give a single dose to its citizens.

It is critical that the world do a better job of sharing vaccines with poorer nations.

Sharing vaccines is not merely a form of charity.  Rather, the equitable distribution of vaccines is in every country’s health and economic interest and no country will be able to move past the pandemic until other countries have recovered as well.

Jonathan Spira contributed to this story.


(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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