Roundup: WHO warns no vaccine until mid-2021, Hungary, Austria boost measures
Madrid Desk, Sep 4 (efe-epa).- The World Health Organisation on Friday warned that there will not be mass vaccinations against the new coronavirus until the middle of next year, as Hungary closed its borders to all but three neighboring countries despite criticism from the European Commission, while Austria adjusted its regional tracing and containment restrictions.
Elsewhere in Europe, an outbreak was reported at the world’s largest brewer in Belgium, stricter measures were announced for Madrid, which is in the midst of a second wave of Covid-19 infections, while the Pope urged European heads of state and business leaders to make solidarity a pillar of their response to the pandemic.
The World Health Organization on Friday warned that widespread vaccinations against Covid-19 would not be likely until at least mid-2021.
Between six to nine coronavirus vaccine research projects are underway, some of which are in the clinical trial phase, but none have shown an efficacy level of above 50 percent so far, WHO spokeswoman Margeret Harris told a press briefing in Geneva.
“We are not expecting to see widespread vaccination until the middle of next year.”
She added: “A lot of people have been vaccinated and what we don’t know is whether the vaccine works.
“At this stage we do not have the clear signal of whether or not it has the level of worthwhile efficacy and safety.”
The sheer amount of research being invested into finding a vaccine against Covid-19 would likely result in more than one immunization being made available, Harris said.
She warned against stirring false hope in the population, however, saying it could fuel complacency with regards to health and safety protocol, social distancing and the use of masks.
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban dismissed criticisms from the European Commission over the recent closure of his country’s borders to foreigners, although some countries are exempt.
Orban told Hungarian public radio that citizens from fellow V4 group nations — Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — would be allowed to freely enter Hungary.
The Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johannson, and for Justice, Didier Reynders, this week sent a letter to the Hungarian government reminding it of “the importance of the integrity of the Schengen area and of applying border measures in a non-discriminatory way to all EU citizens and residents.”
But Orban said: “I understand the reasoning of the bureaucrats in Brussels, (…) because that’s their business, but there has been very close epidemiological cooperation between the four countries.”
Local authorities have confirmed 459 new cases in the last 24 hours, the highest number registered in the country since the start of the pandemic.
The Austrian government launched a so-called “traffic light” system to gauge the epidemiological risk of the country’s different regions and avoid a repeat of nationwide lockdown measures to contain Covid-19.
The system has four levels, according to the level of risk: green (low risk), yellow (medium), orange (high) and red (very high).
Four of Austria’s 94 municipalities — the country’s three largest cities Vienna, Linz and Graz as well as Kufstein in Tyrol — have been designated “yellow” regions, while the rest of the country is considered low risk.