(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
About 100 million have or had long COVID, study estimates
More than 40% of COVID-19 survivors worldwide have had lingering after-effects of the illness, researchers from the University of Michigan estimate. This was based on their review of 40 earlier studies from 17 countries that looked at patients’ experiences with so-called long COVID, defined as new or persistent symptoms at four or more weeks after infection. The prevalence rises to 57% among survivors who required hospitalisation, the researchers reported on Tuesday on medRxiv ahead of peer review.
Among the most common problems, fatigue was estimated to affect 23%, while shortness of breath, joint pain and memory problems each affected 13%. The study likely did not capture all cases of long COVID, the researchers say. “Based on a WHO (World Health Organization) estimate of 237 million worldwide COVID-19 infections, this global pooled…estimate indicates that around 100 million individuals currently experience or have previously experienced long-term health-related consequences of COVID-19.”
German region hardest hit by COVID surge plans partial lockdown -report
The German region hardest hit by the country’s fourth wave of coronavirus is considering a partial lockdown, local media reported on Thursday as regional and federal leaders discussed tighter rules nationwide.
Saxony, which has Germany’s lowest vaccination rate and highest infection rate, is considering measures like closing theatres, concerts and soccer games to the public once more and shutting bars and discos, according to Bild newspaper.
The eastern region, where new daily infections have risen 14-fold in the past month, is a stronghold of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which harbours many vaccine sceptics who have joined anti-lockdown protests.
German federal and regional leaders will later on Thursday discuss nationwide measure to tackle the pandemic as cases continue to touch new record highs although the rate of increase is slowing down slightly.
AstraZeneca’s preventative COVID-19 shot shown to work longer-term
AstraZeneca on Thursday cemented its lead in bringing a preventative COVID-19 shot for the non-infected to market for people who do not respond well to vaccines, saying its antibody drug cocktail offered 83% protection over six months.
The therapy, called AZD7442 or Evusheld, had previously been shown to confer 77% protection against symptomatic illness after three months, in an earlier readout of the late-stage PROVENT trial in August.
The Anglo-Swedish company also said a separate study in patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 showed a higher dose of AZD7442 cut the risk of symptoms worsening by 88% when given within three days of first symptoms.
Austrian COVID-19 cases keep rising as provinces prepare full lockdown
Austria’s daily coronavirus infections hit a new record on Thursday as the hardest-hit provinces started planning a full lockdown and pressure on the government grew to do the same nationally instead of the current lockdown for the unvaccinated.
Roughly 66% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in western Europe. Its infections are among the highest on the continent, with a seven-day incidence of 971 per 100,000 people.
With colder winter weather setting in, cases have surged across Europe, prompting governments to consider reimposing unpopular lockdowns. While the Netherlands has imposed a partial lockdown that applies to all, Austria has sought not to impose extra restrictions on the fully vaccinated.
Czech govt bars unvaccinated from restaurants, services as COVID cases jump
The Czech government has approved plans to only allow people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from the illness in the past six months into restaurants, hotels and other services, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Thursday.
The government had flagged the new measures this week as the country battles a surge in COVID-19 cases and seeks to boost vaccination numbers in the nation of 10.7 million.
Slovakia to impose lockdown for unvaccinated, premier says
Slovakia will impose stricter measures for people who have not been vaccinated against coronavirus amid a surge in infections and hospital admissions that is stretching the health system, Prime Minister Eduard Heger said on Thursday.
“It is a lockdown for the unvaccinated,” Heger told a news conference shown live on television.
Dutch weigh options to slow COVID-19 surge among children
Virologists in the Netherlands have proposed extending holidays over Christmas to slow a surge in COVID-19 cases among children that has forced half of schools nationwide to send classes home, but the government said it wanted to keep them open.
The National Institute for Health reported a record number of over 110,000 cases in the week to Nov. 16, an increase of 44% from the previous seven days. The strongest rise was among children aged 4-12.
“Keeping primary schools closed for longer is an effective way to keep the virus under control,” immunologist Ger Rijkers told the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper. “Children are virus factories and infect adults as well as each other.”
Education Minister Arie Slob differed, noting that most teachers had been vaccinated and most children only experienced mild symptoms of COVID-19. “The cabinet has agreed to shield education as much as possible (from restrictions). I am convinced it is responsible to keep schools open,” he said.
S.Korea reports record new COVID-19 cases
South Korea reported a record high 3,292 new COVID-19 cases, its Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Thursday, as the country moves into the first phase of its living with loosened COVID-19 restrictions. A rise in cases was predicted by officials and experts after many social distancing restrictions were lifted earlier this month, after the country surpassed its goal of vaccinating 70% of its 52 million people.
The KDCA says a rise in serious cases is also being driven by the waning effects of coronavirus vaccines provided to vulnerable groups such as the elderly earlier on in the process, leading to an increase in breakthrough infections.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Mark Heinrich)