Coronavirus update, Feb. 1, 2021: distribution of Moderna vaccine to start in the Czech Republic

PES score rises but still at the fourth level, Novavax will be delayed, Health Ministry wants student testing to be free.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 01.02.2021 09:17 (updated on 01.02.2021)

The PES epidemic score rose from 70 to 73 points today, due to the reproduction number having increased to 1.01 in the Czech Republic, but it still remains within the fourth degree of COVID-19 risk, the Health Ministry said this morning.

The remaining parameters slightly fell, but this did not affect the total score which has been in the fourth, second highest risk degree for 19 days. Officially, the country is still in the fifth, highest degree of alert and the corresponding measures.

The reproduction number says how many people are on average infected by one positively tested person. When it is under one, the epidemic slows down.

After the Friday slight decrease in its value to about 0.98, it rose again over 0.99 on Saturday and to 1.01 on Sunday. Before, it was above one on January 12.

Another three indicators affecting the calculation of the score have improved. The average number of the infected per 100,000 population over the past week slightly fell.

The two-week average of the infected among the elderly and the proportion of the COVID hospitalized in whom the infection was only proven in hospital fell, too.

The distribution of the Moderna vaccine starts today. “The vaccine will be supplied to the respective healthcare facilities and in the given volumes according to the orders by the regional vaccination coordinators,” Martin Nesrsta, from the Avenier firm in charge of the vaccines distribution, said.

The Czech Republic has received 20,400 doses from Moderna, and 24,000 more doses are expected by the end of the week.

The vaccine against COVID-19 developed by the U.S. company Novavax has been delayed, and it might be released to the market in April, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told CNN Prima News TV on Sunday after his visit to the Novavax plant near Prague.

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One of the main components of the vaccine substance is to be manufactured in the Czech Republic. The firm previously announced that its vaccine had efficiency of 89.3 percent according to the clinical trials in Britain.

Novavax should manufacture 1 billion vaccines a year, Babiš said. “Unfortunately, it has been slightly delayed for the time being,” he added.

The firm does not plan to manufacture the complete vaccine in the Czech Republic. The Czech pant will only make a recombinant coronavirus protein that is used to develop the necessary reaction by the immunity system.

“The supplies might start in April already, according to the latest information I have,” Babiš added.

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The other key component of the vaccine will be produced in Sweden. Both components are to be completed in another European plant, probably in Germany.

According to the previous data, the Czech Republic should have this vaccine available for maximally 3.5 million people.

The blanket COVID-19 testing of students that would enable their return to schools should be noninvasive, covered from public budgets, and it must not burden teachers, Education Minister Robert Plaga said on Prima TV

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The Health Ministry is now working on the possibility of testing students by new sets of tests that do not require trained health personnel. They would allow taking saliva samples instead of the using a nasopharyngeal swab, which is common now, Plaga said.

He previously said the blanket COVID-19 testing of students at schools could start in the Czech Republic in several weeks.

President Miloš Zeman agrees with the government new anti-coronavirus measures that took effect on Saturday, as they prevent gathering of people, which is the main factor of the epidemic, he said in an interview with the Frekvence 1 radio station.

The cabinet newly banned visits to patients at intensive care wards in hospitals as of Saturday. It also even more restricted the accommodation services and the arrivals of foreigners in the Czech Republic.

“I firmly hope that the citizens will understand that they must hold on for several months until not only these measures, but primarily the vaccines take effect,” Zeman said.

He added that he himself respected all anti-epidemic measures, though he considered some of them illogical. However, the newly adopted rules are not useless, as they aim against gathering of people, he added.

Latest COVID-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Feb. 1, 2021)

  • Active cases 95,624
  • New cases 2,540
  • Deaths 16,392
  • Currently hospitalized 5,301
  • PCR tests performed 4,598,537
  • Antigen tests performed 1,574,972
  • Reported vaccinations 266,066