Covid-19: new hope with Moderna’s vaccine, at a time of restrictions

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A medical worker in safety gear stands on the roof of a building in Prague, November 16, 2020 (AFP / Michal Cizek)

The announcement on Monday by the American company Moderna of a vaccine that is nearly 95% effective against Covid-19 brings new hope in the world where several countries, especially in Europe, continue to adopt restrictions in the face of an epidemic galloping.

After the announcement last week by the American laboratories Pfizer and German BioNTech of a 90% effective vaccine, the biotechnology company Moderna claimed that its was 94.5% effective.

It plans to manufacture twenty million doses by the end of December, making the prospect of vaccinations against Covid-19 more concrete.

The managing director of the German company BioNTech had estimated Sunday that “we could have a normal winter next year”, provided “that we have a significant vaccination rate before the fall / winter” 2021-2022.

Faced with these reasons for optimism, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, welcomed “the encouraging news” on the vaccine front, but warned against any “complacency”.

“We continue to receive encouraging news on vaccines and remain cautiously optimistic that the possibility of new tools starting to arrive in the coming months,” he said.

He also said he was “extremely concerned about the increase in the number of cases in some countries”, pointing to the situation in Europe and the American continent where “health workers and health systems are being pushed to the limit”.

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A Covid-19 testing center in Potsdam, eastern Germany, November 16, 2020 (AFP / Tobias Schwarz)

A Covid-19 testing center in Potsdam, eastern Germany, November 16, 2020 (AFP / Tobias Schwarz)

Worldwide, the pandemic has killed at least 1,319,561 people since the end of December, according to a report established by AFP on Monday.

In Germany, where a sharp rise in infections has been observed for several weeks, Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the Germans to reduce contact to the strict “minimum”, while welcoming the first successes of the measures to combat Covid-19 which halted its “exponential” spread.

“We still have a long way to go, but the good news is that we have managed to stop the exponential growth” of the virus, she said.

The German authorities are studying new measures: limit contact to “members of the household and a maximum of two people from another household”, impose the wearing of masks in schools and reduce class sizes, according to a draft agreement .

– Limited gatherings in Sweden –

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Map of the United States representing the number of cases recorded by county per 100,000 inhabitants since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic (AFP /)

Map of the United States representing the number of cases recorded by county per 100,000 inhabitants since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic (AFP /)

In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson went into solitary confinement on Sunday after coming into contact with a person infected with the new coronavirus, an unwelcome quarantine in the middle of the final sprint in post-Brexit negotiations. He assured Monday he felt “very good” and “overflowing with antibodies” after being seriously ill with Covid-19 in April.

With nearly 52,000 dead, the United Kingdom is the most bereaved country in Europe by the pandemic.

Elsewhere in Europe, Sweden, which pursues a less strict strategy than most European countries, announced on Monday to limit public gatherings to a maximum of eight people in the face of the rebound in contamination, a first.

In Norway, a country which nevertheless has a relatively low contamination rate, the municipality of Oslo has announced the tightening of the rules of “social confinement” for adolescents, particularly affected by a recent rebound in the epidemic.

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French Health Minister Olivier Véran visits a medical plane at Bron airport near Lyon, France, November 16, 2020 (POOL / Philippe DESMAZES)

French Health Minister Olivier Véran visits a medical plane at Bron airport near Lyon, France, November 16, 2020 (POOL / Philippe DESMAZES)

Austria will begin a second lockdown on Tuesday, with the closure of schools and non-essential stores and a call to stay at home. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has also announced a large-scale Covid-19 screening campaign.

In France, 508 new deaths have been recorded in the past 24 hours, but the number of new cases was at its lowest in weeks, according to official data.

The number of people currently hospitalized in France has broken a new record, at 33,466 with 2,065 new patients over 24 hours. During the epidemic peak of spring, it had reached a maximum of 32,292 in mid-April, when more than 6,500 people were in intensive care.

“If there are signs of improvement in terms of the epidemic, we have not yet conquered the virus”, warned the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, urging his fellow citizens to “not relax (their) efforts “.

– Chicago se confine –

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Number of deaths linked to the coronavirus officially announced by country, as of November 16 at 11:00 GMT (AFP /)

Number of deaths linked to the coronavirus officially announced by country, as of November 16 at 11:00 GMT (AFP /)

Europe is not alone in redoubling its efforts: on the other side of the Atlantic, the mayor of Chicago, the third largest city in the United States, recommended that her 2.7 million citizens avoid outings starting Monday except for essential travel, including work and school, not to have any guests and to cancel the traditional Thanksgiving holiday.

These are just recommendations. On the other hand, private meetings are, on a mandatory basis, limited to a maximum of 10 people.

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A Covid-19 test outside the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County in Chicago, United States, November 13, 2020 (AFP / KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI)

A Covid-19 test outside the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County in Chicago, United States, November 13, 2020 (AFP / KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI)

The United States, the country most bereaved in the world by the epidemic with 246,224 deaths, recorded one million new Covid-19 infections in less than a week and crossed the mark of 11 million cases on Sunday, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In Australia, a new epidemic focus has been detected in Adelaide, a city in the south of the country which had been largely untouched for seven months, originating from a hotel where travelers returning from abroad are quarantined.

In Belgium, the government has announced its intention to treat at least 70% of the country’s population, or 8 million people, with future vaccines and to ensure that they are free “for every citizen”.

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