‘Seven percent of Austrians infected with coronavirus’ since pandemic began

Seven percent of Austria's residents have come down with coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, showing the country is far away from herd immunity.

'Seven percent of Austrians infected with coronavirus' since pandemic began
A woman shops for FFP2 masks in Vienna. Photo: ALEX HALADA / AFP

A new study by an Institute for Demography of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) shows that seven per cent of people in Austria have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

The results of the study were presented by the Viennese demographers in the journal “PLOS One” together with Vienna’s Technical University (TU).

The study took into account the age of the population, the general death rate in relation to age, the number of deaths associated with Covid-19 and Covid-19 deaths in relation to the documented numbers of infected people, or case mortality. 

Using mathematical modelling, the researchers had also calculated how many of the actual cases had been detected using testing, the Austrian Academy of Sciences said.

UPDATE: What do delivery delays mean for Austria's Covid-19 vaccination programme? 

The analysis by demographers Miguel Sánchez-Romero and Vanessa Di Lego and colleagues showed that in most countries, only around 60 percent of cases were recognised by test strategies.

This value also applies to Austria, as Sánchez-Romero explained.

“Different test procedures, asymptomatic persons and the limited availability of tests on a large scale reduce the chances of really detecting all cases,” he said.

The scientists used statistical models to estimate how many people had been infected with Covid 19, including unreported cases.

In its work, the team focused on the USA –  and found even in the states of New York and New Jersey, which had an estimated 20 percent infection rate, herd immunity was still a long way off. 

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, American immunologist Dr Fauci, said as many as 85 percent of people must be vaccinated or immunised to achieve herd immunity from the coronavirus, ORF reports. Due to the mutations of the virus, it is difficult to establish at what percentage herd immunity is achieved.

The demographic team points out that their estimates for various countries are closely aligned with the results of seroprevalence studies, in which the number of people already infected is sampled based on antibodies in the blood and then extrapolated to the total population.

However, such examinations are time-consuming and expensive. Whether vaccinating the population can reduce transmission of the virus should become clearer in February. 


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EXPLAINED: How to register for the monkeypox vaccine in Vienna

Austria's capital city Vienna has begun registration appointments for those who want to get a monkeypox vaccine. Here's what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How to register for the monkeypox vaccine in Vienna

As of September 9th, people can make reservations for monkeypox vaccination in Vienna, authorities announced. It is possible to register for the vaccine using the health service line by calling 1450 or via the Impfservice website.

The City of Vienna has said the pre-registration is needed because all planning will be done through a central system due to a shortage of vaccines.

“Please understand that due to the vaccine shortage, we cannot offer preventive monkeypox vaccination to everyone interested. We can use the reservation platform to quickly allocate available appointments and contact interested parties as soon as there are more vaccines”, the authorities said.

After the registration, people will be contacted to book appointments on September 14th. The first available date will be September 19th.

READ ALSO: Monkeypox in Austria: What causes it and is it serious?

Who should be vaccinated against monkeypox?

Vaccination of the general population is currently not recommended.

Preventive vaccination is only offered to health care workers with a very high risk of exposure to people with monkeypox (designated monkeypox departments/outpatient clinics/offices) and persons with individual risk behaviour (persons with frequently changing sexual contacts), the City of Vienna said.

The health authorities in Vienna also have a specific information sheet in English with more information on the disease.

Monkeypox is a notifiable disease caused by a virus closely related to the smallpox virus and which can cause a condition similar to smallpox but rarely deadly. People with immunodeficiencies, pregnant women and children are at risk of more severe symptoms.

The virus spreads from person to person through contact with infectious skin lesions, via air droplets through speaking, coughing, sneezing, or other body fluids, and when having prolonged and close physical contact, e.g. through sexual intercourse.

READ ALSO: Austria recommends 4th Covid vaccine dose for everyone over 12

Usually, the first symptoms show up 5 to 14 days (at the latest, 21 days) after exposure. These include fever, general exhaustion, headaches, muscle and body aches, gastrointestinal problems and frequently painfully swollen lymph nodes.

“If you have symptoms and have had contact with someone with monkeypox, you must self-isolate at once and call 1450. If you have a confirmed monkeypox infection, you need to stay in self-isolation until the last crust has fallen off”, the Austrian authorities added.