Coronavirus update, Aug. 19, 2021: Up to half of the Czech population has likely had Covid

Plus: 200 schools register to use PCR tests in September, Prague's mobile vaccination bus vaccinates 500, Prague’s R number drops below 1.0.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 19.08.2021 09:59:00 (updated on 19.08.2021) Reading time: 5 minutes

Study claims up to half of Czech population had Covid

Half of the Czech population had Covid by March and developed antibodies, according to a study from the Recetox Center of Masaryk University reported by Seznamspravy.cz. Official figures say 1.7 million or 17 percent of the population have had Covid-19, but up to three times more could have been infected, experiencing the disease asymptomatically but developing antibodies, the Recetox study shows. The research involved 30,000 participants. The study has been monitoring antibody production in the Czech population since October.

"While in October and November 2020 only 28 percent of study participants had antibodies, in December 2020 and January 2021 it was 43 percent, and in February and March 2021, it was 51 percent. At that time, a substantial part of the Czech population was no longer immunologically naive to SARS-CoV-2 infection, " immunologist Vojtěch Thon said.

At least one-third of the study participants in whom antibodies were found had no previous symptoms of the disease. And 28 percent of people with detected antibodies have never been tested for PCR. "The measured data indicate that the percentage of the population exposed to coronavirus virus until March 2021 was significantly higher than would be estimated from direct estimates based only on data from PCR testing," Ladislav Dušek, director of the Institute of Health Information and Statistics (ÚZIS), said.

Over 500 people vaccinated by Prague’s mobile vaccination center

In the three weeks of its operation, almost 500 people have used the services of Prague’s mobile vaccination center. They have been vaccinated in many places in the metropolis without the need for prior reservation. Hundreds of other people were informed about a number of issues related to vaccination as part of a contact communication campaign. The bus will have several more stops throughout Prague this month. On Friday, August 20, the bus will head to the Homepark Zličín, where they will be available from 10 am to 6 pm. This weekend, he will be vaccinated on the bus at the family festival Pohádkoland, which will take place at Výstaviště in Holešovice. The current schedule of bus is online.

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200 schools will use PCR tests in September

Two hundred schools want to replace preventive antigen testing for Covid-19 with a more accurate PCR method come September, Education Ministry spokeswoman Aneta Lednová said. This represents about 3.6 percent of all primary and secondary schools in the Czech Republic. Schools could sign up for PCR testing until yesterday afternoon, and for one test they will receive CZK 200 back. According to the government's decision, in the first days after the start of the school year, children are preventively tested three times by antigen tests provided by the state. If the school decides to replace them with PCR tests, it will have to arrange the testing itself. Money from the European Union Solidarity Fund will go for PCR tests. According to the ministry's statistics, there are approximately 4,200 primary and 1,300 secondary schools in the Czech Republic. According to Ledová, 354 schools reported the use of PCR tests last school year. The number of schools that have opted for PCR tests is now lower than in the spring. Preventive antigen testing is scheduled for Sept. 1 or 2, as well as Sept. 6 and 9.  

Schools still waiting for PCR test compensation from last year

The Prague City Council said yesterday that the city districts have not yet received money for PCR testing in the past school year.

"For schools and their founders, especially the small ones, PCR testing represents a significant budget item. From the point of view of fiscal year planning, the information on when the payment for tests will be transferred to their accounts is very important for them. Therefore, by letter, we appeal for their accelerated transfer to be allocated in the state budget," City Councilor Vít Šimral said.

According to the Ministry of Education, the money should go to the regions this week. The Ministry of Finance approved the provision of the subsidy last Thursday, the office sent a decision to the schools on Friday, Education Ministry spokeswoman Aneta Lednová said. "In the case of public and private schools, the funds will be sent to the regions, and the regional authorities will then distribute them to the individual schools," she added.

Police postpone case concerning CZK 777 respirators

Police have postponed an investigation into the purchase of allegedly overpriced protective equipment against covid-19, which was acquired by the Ministry of Health in an emergency, National Center Against Organized Crime (NCOZ) spokesman Jaroslav Ibehej, said. The Health Ministry bought respirators for CZK 777 each. Currently they sell for CZK 10 each. The police stated that the state did not suffer any damage when procuring medical devices and that there were no more advantageous alternatives with regard to the protection of life and health at that time, according to Novinky.cz.

Study shows third dose is effective in elderly population

The third dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has an 86 percent effectiveness in people over 60 years of age, the Israeli health insurance company Makabi announced, citing the first results of a scientific study. The study is based on data from more than 149,000 people over the age of 60 who were vaccinated with a third dose at least a week ago, and on data from 675,000 people vaccinated with two doses between January and February. Of the people vaccinated three times, 37 were re-infected with coronavirus, while there were 1,064 positive cases among people with two doses. It is not clear from the report how severe the symptoms were in 37 re-infected patients.

Prague’s R number drops below 1.0

There were 206 new Covid cases reported for Wednesday, down from 219 a week earlier. The number of people hospitalized rose by one to reach 60, while the number of people in serious condition fell by two to reach 13. The incidence number of new cases per 100,000 over seven days fell by one to 12. The reproduction number R dropped slightly to reach 1.02, its lowest level in 12 days, but it is still over the break-even point of 1.0. For Prague, the incidence number stayed steady at 28, but the R number dropped to 0.93, meaning the pandemic has started to recede in the capital.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Aug. 19, 2021)

  • New cases 206
  • Deaths 30 382
  • Currently hospitalized 60
  • PCR tests performed 9,654,068
  • Antigen tests performed 25,216,084
  • Total vaccinations 11,090,083
  • Daily increase in vaccinations 43,787
  • People who have completed vaccination 5,419,045
  • New cases per 100,000 in seven days 12
  • PES index 38
  • R number 1.02
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