Given the sustained increase in infections with new variants of the virus, the European Commission indicated that it is evaluating imposing new mobility restrictions on the continent, after governments such as the Netherlands suspended flights from both the United Kingdom and Latin America and South Africa. Meanwhile, Denmark, Austria, the Czech Republic and Greece called for the approval process of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the EU to be accelerated and Portugal ordered the closure of schools from this Friday.
The spread of new variants of Covid-19 keeps international emergency agencies on alert, which are trying to control the health emergency.
Global infections, which amount to more than 97 million in the 191 countries and territories affected by the pandemic, according to the tally produced by Johns Hopkins University, continue to increase, while the death toll from the disease worldwide stands at more than two million.
Here are the most relevant news about the pandemic this January 21:
- The European Commission evaluates new mobility restrictions due to the spread of virus variants
This Thursday, the European Commission said that it is studying the possibility of implementing new restrictions on freedom of movement, motivated by the increase in infections with new variants of the virus.
“The European Commission is evaluating whether the latest events, such as the recently identified worrying variants, will require an update of the current coordinated measures on the restriction of freedom of movement,” explained Christian Wigand, the spokesman for the Community Executive.
To date, several European nations have taken measures such as blocking flights not only from the United Kingdom to prevent the spread of the British variant, but also from South Africa and Latin America, such as the Netherlands.
During the day, the leaders of the commission are expected to discuss a possible border closure for non-essential travel, despite the fact that senior officials such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been openly against the position of implementing a new closure like the one decreed in March.
Ursula Von der Leyen, the president of the EC, declared a day before the meeting that she rejects the order for a complete border closure since, in her opinion, this would not make sense.
- Denmark, Austria, Czech Republic and Greece call for AstraZeneca vaccine approval to be accelerated in the EU
These four nations requested this Thursday that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) accelerate the process by which the approval of the use of vaccines against Covid-19 is expected, especially the one created by the company AstraZeneca, because this account with greater storage facilities.
According to what was stated by the leaders of these countries through an official letter that was sent to the European Council, what they seek is that the approval be produced in the most efficient and rapid way to attend to the emergency since “every day counts for Save lives”.
“We unitedly ask that the EMA decide quickly and without bureaucracy on the approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” the document said.
The information provided by the Austrian authorities shows that AstraZeneca could supply two million vaccines during the first four months of 2021, deliveries with which the population immunization stage would be accelerated.
The EMA has so far approved the antidotes developed by Moderna and Pfizer, while AstraZeneca’s has not received the endorsement, despite being easier to store because it does not require temperatures as low as the other two.
If the AstraZeneca drug is approved, its application would contribute to meeting the goal of these European nations of immunizing at least 70% of their adult population by mid-year.
- Portugal again orders the closure of schools due to the increase in infections
The nation’s schools will close their doors again from January 22 and for at least two weeks, according to the order given by the Government as a result of the increase in those infected with the virus.
The official balance sheets show that, in the last 15 days, the contagion curve has skyrocketed and that the death rate from the disease only during Wednesday was 221.
Against this background, the General Directorate of Health, said that the country has presented new records of deaths due to the pandemic in four consecutive days, so it was imminent to decree more measures.
“Last week we had a prevalence of 8%; this week of 20%, and studies indicate that it can reach 60% (…) Despite all the extraordinary effort that schools made to prepare for this new variant of the virus and the speed of transmission, the precautionary principle forces us to interrupt all school activities for the next 15 days, “said the authorities.
The new restriction comes six weeks after the start of the second confinement decreed in the country and one day after they began monitoring processes of compliance with the limitations in the communities most affected by the emergency.
With Reuters and EFE