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AUSTRIA

Today in Austria: A round-up of the latest news on Friday

Find out what's going on today in Austria with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Person getting vaccinated
Spring-like weather is forecast for Austria this weekend. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Extra doses of vaccine to come to Austria

Austria will receive 198,815 additional doses of Biontech Pfizer vaccine doses, after the EU purchased an extra 10 million for member states, Der Standard newspaper reports. Austria had hoped the EU would give it even more extra doses to make up for AstraZeneca delivery problems which means it may fall behind in vaccination this year. 

No Austria-wide lockdown for now, says Kurz

The lockdown in the eastern states of Austria will stay limited to these regions for the time being, Chancellor Kurz  said on Thursday.  He said the country’s intensive care units, showed big differences between regions. States should help each other in the admission of intensive care patients, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports. 

Record deficit in Austria 

The pandemic has driven the deficit in Austria  to a record level of 8.9 percent of GDP in 2020. The €33.2 billion missing from the state budget, is the highest deficit since records began in 1954. The national debt ratio also rose in 2020 by 13.4 percent to  83.9 percent of economic output, it reports. Preliminary results from Statistics Austria show government spending rose by 12.6% or €24.4 billion compared to 2019 to a total of €217.4 billion, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports. 

Unemployment fell in March

Unemployment fell significantly in March, but is still at a high level. At the end of March, 457,817 people were registered as unemployed or in AMS training, 51,106 fewer than last February and 104,705 fewer than in March 2020. The unemployment rate at the end of March was 9.4%, a decrease of 1.3 percentage points compared to February and 2.9 percentage points compared to March 2020, the Wiener Zietung newspaper reports 

E-moped sharing scheme comes to Vienna

A new e-moped sharing has been available in Vienna since Thursday. The Go Sharing company starts renting its e-mopeds. Initially the fleet will comprise 200 vehicles, by the end of the year 500 of the green-painted mopeds should be on the road, broadcaster ORF reports. 

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VACCINES

EU will have vaccine doses for 70 percent of adults ‘by mid-July’

The EU will have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses to cover 70 percent of its adult population by mid-July due to higher production within the bloc, a senior official said on Tuesday.

EU will have vaccine doses for 70 percent of adults 'by mid-July'
This picture taken on February 22, 2021 shows the warehouse of the packaging line of the factory of US multinational pharmaceutical company Pfizer in Puurs. Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP

“Fifty-three factories are producing vaccines in the EU. Our continent is now the largest producer in the world after the United States,” internal markets commissioner Thierry Breton told French daily Le Figaro in an interview.

“I am now certain of how many doses are currently in production and I know how many millions will be delivered each week,” he said.

“This allows me to assure you that we will have by mid-July the number of doses necessary for vaccinating 70 percent of the European Union’s adult population,” he said, citing the threshold many health experts say is necessary to achieve “herd immunity.”

EU governments have faced fierce criticism over the bloc’s joint vaccine procurement efforts, which saw a slow start to its inoculation drive even as programmes raced ahead in Britain and the US.

Already half of American adults have had at least one dose, and as of Monday anyone over 18 can sign up for a shot.

In the EU, by contrast, just over 20 percent of adults have received at least one jab, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Breton insisted that Europe would catch up in the coming months, with production capacity “that will reach 200 million doses a month by this summer.”

But he poured cold water on the idea of using Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine anytime soon, after Germany opened discussions with Moscow this month without waiting for coordinated EU action.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is evaluating Sputnik’s safety and efficiency, but “it still lacks some essential data,” Breton said.

And even if approved, “we’ll have to find production capacity, because the Russians do not have large production sites and are looking for industrial partners in Europe which are already fully mobilised.”

“For all these reasons, I don’t think significant quantities of Sputnik will be available for Europe before the end of 2021,” he said.

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