Corona worldwide: Mutation in South Africa worries experts – politics

Due to the spread of a new, possibly more dangerous variant of the coronavirus, the EU Commission wants to limit travel from southern Africa to the EU to an absolute minimum. The Brussels authority will propose to the EU states to trigger the emergency brake provided in order to suspend air traffic, said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Twitter. The EU states still have to discuss and decide on this. The emergency brake would not be legally binding, but it would be an important directional decision.

The spread of variant B.1.1.529 in southern Africa has raised international concern. Experts fear that because of an unusually high number of mutations, it could not only be highly contagious, but also penetrate the protective shield of the vaccines more easily. “The scientists are all very alarmed,” said the executive head of the Chancellery, Helge Braun (CDU), in the ARD morning magazine. That is why talks are being held with the Robert Koch Institute.

Because of B.1.1.529, Germany will now, among other things, declare the country South Africa to be a virus variant area. The regulation will come into force tonight, airlines will then only be allowed to transport German citizens to Germany, said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU).

More and more countries are reacting with stricter entry regulations. Israel classified the countries of South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini as “red countries”. Foreigners are no longer allowed to enter Israel from these countries. The British government will stop air traffic from the countries mentioned from Friday due to the new virus variant. India announced that it will consistently test and examine travelers from South Africa and other countries in the future. Japan also decided to tighten border controls for travelers from South Africa and five other African countries. From Saturday onwards, no one will be allowed to enter Singapore who has been in the six African countries in the past 14 days.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently examining whether the new variant should be classified as a matter of concern. This was announced by WHO expert Maria van Kerkhove. It will be examined to what extent the variant also has consequences for diagnostics, therapies and vaccination campaigns. “It will be a few weeks before we understand the impact this variant has,” said Kerkhove.

Experts from South Africa presented their latest findings to the press. Accordingly, the variant brings with it a large number of mutations and differs significantly from previous manifestations of the virus. It is considered “of particular concern,” said Health Secretary Joe Phaahla.

The variant has already been detected in Botswana. The South African Institute for Infectious Diseases NICD announced that the first 22 cases had been detected in South Africa. More cases are to be expected in the course of the ongoing genome analyzes.

Concern about the new variant is also reflected in the financial markets. Investors buy gold for fear of the economic consequences of a spread. The South African currency falls, in return the dollar rises. In addition, investors are withdrawing from the crude oil market. The variant is fueling speculation about new pandemic restrictions, says analyst Kelvin Wong from brokerage firm CMC Markets. (25.11.2021)

France announces increased border controls

France announces increased border controls to contain the virus. “We will strengthen it with several measures,” said Minister of Health Olivier Veran of the TF1 channel. Details on this would be determined in the next 24 to 48 hours. The government had previously taken tightened measures to counter a fifth wave of infections. (25.11.2021)

Portugal is reintroducing restrictions

Despite the high vaccination rate, Portugal is also reintroducing corona restrictions in view of the increasing number of infections. All air travelers who want to come into the country and are already fully vaccinated must show a negative test upon arrival, said Prime Minister Antonio Costa at a press conference.

Completely immunized people would also have to show a negative corona test for visits to nightclubs, bars, major events and nursing homes. Inside, it is again mandatory to wear masks. The start of school after Christmas will be postponed by a week, work in the home office will be compulsory in the first week of January. Portugal is one of the countries with the highest vaccination rate in the world. (25.11.2021)

Czech President after a positive Covid test in the clinic

In the Czech Republic, President Milos Zeman is taken to hospital after a positive corona test. The 77-year-old will be treated there, his work program has been suspended, his office said. Zeman was supposed to appoint the previous opposition leader Petr Fiala as the new prime minister on Friday (tomorrow). Zeman had been released from the hospital just hours earlier for other treatment. (25.11.2021)

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EMA approves vaccine for children

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) allows the Covid-19 vaccine from Biontech and Pfizer to be used in children aged five to eleven. The responsible EMA committee recommended an extension of the approval on Thursday. The final decision has yet to be made by the European Commission, but this is a matter of form. So far, the vaccine has been approved in the European Union from the age of twelve. So far, there has been no approved preparation for younger children.

Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn announced on Monday that the entire EU would receive delivery of the children’s vaccine on December 20, and that Germany would then receive 2.4 million doses in one fell swoop. Biontech confirmed the schedule. “With the delivery to Germany, about half of the children between the ages of five and under twelve living in Germany can be vaccinated,” said a spokeswoman for the Mainz-based manufacturer. The schedule was discussed repeatedly with representatives of the EU Commission and was finally confirmed last week. An earlier delivery is not to be expected: “All upstream processes were aligned to this deadline.”

The Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) prepares a recommendation for vaccinating children at the start of the first delivery. “Our goal is to have this recommendation ready by the end of December, if possible by the start of delivery of the children’s vaccine to the federal states,” said Stiko boss Thomas Mertens recently. When the vaccine was approved by the EU for those aged twelve and over in May, Stiko initially only recommended vaccinations for adolescents with previous illnesses. It was only in August that she recommended this to everyone aged twelve and over and referred to a broader database, in particular from the American vaccination program with millions of vaccinated young people.

After approval by the American FDA at the end of October, around three million children from the age of five were vaccinated with Biontech in the USA, and vaccinations started this week in Israel and Canada. (25.11.2021)

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