Europe still “vulnerable”, Germany closes two borders

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For fear of variants of the coronavirus, Germany decided Thursday to close its border with the Czech Republic and Austrian Tyrol, at a time when the WHO considers that European countries remain “vulnerable” to the disease.

• Read also: All the developments of the pandemic

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer indicated that this measure would take effect on Sunday evening, and that Tyrol and the Czech border regions of Germany would be included in the list of territories highly affected by mutations of the virus.

This list already includes several countries such as Great Britain, South Africa, Brazil or Portugal with which Germany banned most travel at the end of January.

The Czech government announced Thursday isolating three cantons, including two on the border with Germany due to the prevalence of the British variant of the coronavirus. Residents are not allowed to leave these territories, and no one will be able to enter them with exceptions, Prague said.

These measures should not surprise the European director of the World Health Organization, Hans Kluge, who warned Thursday against “the false sense of security” created by the vaccination campaigns underway on the planet, where close to 156 million doses have been administered to date in around 100 countries.

“The overwhelming majority of European countries remain vulnerable,” said Mr. Kluge, for whom “at present, the line is thin between the hope” aroused by vaccines and “a false sense of security”.

The new coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 2.35 million people around the world since the end of December 2019, according to a latest report established by AFP on Thursday from official sources.

The EU, which on Tuesday crossed the symbolic threshold of 500,000 deaths, has however seen the trend improve in recent days, with contaminations and daily deaths down slightly.

In the EU, 3% of the population has received at least one dose of the anti-Ovid vaccine, according to an AFP count on Thursday. And worldwide, more than 155.7 million doses have been administered in 91 countries or territories. Israel is largely in the lead, in proportion of vaccinated compared to its population (42%).

The rich countries of the planet concentrate nearly six injected doses out of ten (59%), while they only host 16% of the world population.

This “inequitable access to vaccines can turn against us”, once again warned the WHO on Thursday: “the more the virus persists, the greater the risk of dangerous mutations”.

The G7 countries will meet at a virtual summit on Friday to discuss “the health situation”, “the situation of low-income countries” and the possibility that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) can come to their aid.

2020, a golden year

The year of the planetary pandemic, 2020 was also the year of record profits for the British laboratory Astrazeneca, one of the major pharmaceutical groups at the forefront of vaccination.

The group on Thursday released net profit of $ 3.2 billion, which more than doubled in one year, and sales up 9% to $ 26.6 billion per year, driven in particular by strong demand drugs against disorders caused by the virus, such as asthma for example.

Until Easter

The EU has also said it wants to beef up its vaccine production, acknowledging that it was “probably too confident about the timely delivery of the doses ordered”, according to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Wednesday evening the extension until March 7 of most of the restrictions in place in the country. Greece will toughen its national confinement from Thursday. Containment in Ireland will be extended until early April, probably until Easter.

In the United States, Americans will be able to be vaccinated in pharmacies across the country as of Thursday. In New York state, major auditoriums and stadiums could partially reopen from February 23, a first after almost a year of closure.

Vaccine shortages, however, have led some cities, such as Los Angeles, to temporarily close vaccination centers.

In Dubai, faced with an upsurge in the epidemic, the authorities decided to increase the emirate’s health capacities, recruit foreign workers and add hospital beds.

The Middle East has crossed the 100,000 mark as a result of Covid-19, according to the latest AFP count.

As for Africa, deaths due to Covid-19 there “have increased by 40%” in one month, the WHO alarmed on Thursday, worrying about the fate of a continent facing new, more contagious variants .

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