Coronavirus update, Feb. 3, 2021: Czech Republic surpasses 1 million cases since start of pandemic

First doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine should arrive next week, PM Babiš is negotiating for antibody drugs from Eli Lilly.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 03.02.2021 09:49 (updated on 03.02.2021)

The total number of coronavirus infections since the beginning of the pandemic in the Czech Republic has exceeded 1 million, hitting 1,003,657. The country has a population of 10.65 million. Currenlty, there are 93,043 active cases. The number of newly infected on Tuesday increased by 9,057, which was 133 fewer than a week ago.

The PES anti-epidemic index dropped from 73 to 70 points after two days as the reproduction number R decreased under 1.00 and the other three criteria slightly improved, too, the Health Ministry's data released this morning show.

The reproduction number R stands for the people infected by one coronavirus-positive person. While on Sunday and Monday, it was above 1.00, Tuesday's data imply a drop to 0.99.

Along with the reproduction number, the other three criteria for the PES score calculation are the average number of the infected per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days, the two-week average number of the infected seniors per 100,000 as well as the share of the hospitalised patients whose COVID-19 infection was proven in hospital only.

While the R drop made the PES index decrease by three points, other three parameters and their slight improvement did not change the PES score.

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The number of the infected per 100,000 population in the past 14 days fell, as well as the number of the infected elderly. Hospitals reports fewer patients whose COVID-19 infection was proven in hospital only, but there are still 48 percent of them.

The index has been on the fourth alert degree, from 61 to 75 points, since mid-January, but the valid anti-coronavirus measures in the country still correspond to the strictest, fifth degree.

The AstraZeneca firm should start supplying its COVID-19 vaccine against to the Czech Republic on Feb. 8, Health Ministry spokeswoman Barbora Peterová confirmed onTwitter.

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The EMA approved the AstraZeneca vaccine on Jan. 29. In February, the Czech Republic should get 81,000 doses of this vaccine.

On Monday, Health Minister Blatný said he had expected 335,790 doses of the anti-COVID-19 vaccine from the Pfizer/BioNTech firms and 110,000 doses from Moderna in February. In total, the vaccine producers should deliver 526,000 doses in February.

The Czech Republic will buy Bamlanivimab, a COVID-19 antibody-based drug from the U.S. pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. It has already been used in Germany, the U.S., Canada, and Hungary, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said on Twitter.

Bamlanivimab is used to reduce the amount of the virus in the human body and prevent severe symptoms of the disease.

“It will help patients in the first stage of the COVID-19 infection not to end up at intensive care units. It lowers this risk by up to 80 percent,” Babiš said.

The Czech Republic has agreed on the first delivery of the drug, he said without elaborating.

Babiš said the Czech Republic is also negotiating the purchase of antibody therapy from U.S. pharmaceutical firm Regeneron. The drug is based on monoclonal antibodies, which attack a precise target on the virus and eliminate it.

Babiš's aide Roman Prymula, an epidemiologist and former health minister said Bamlanivimab is given to hospitalized COVID-19 patients to avoid the threatening severe symptoms.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced this week that it started to assess the antibody therapy from Regeneron.

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In an interview with the Czech News Agency (ČTK), Prymula said that due to the spread of more contagious coronavirus mutations, it is no longer the case that a risky contact is meeting people without a face covering at a distance of less than two meters for 15 minutes or more. People can get infected in seconds.

The definition of risky contact is based on, for example, tracing, where hygienists find out how many risky contacts the infected person had. The eRouška app also draws attention to possible risk contacts. According to Prymula, tracing and eRouška have completely failed and are significantly less efficient than expected.

Coronavirus mutations have reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, so people who have already been vaccinated may need to be revaccinated, he added.

He also said he does not intend to return to his former post as health minister.

Austria has abolished the exceptions for commuters, and Czech cross-border workers commuting to Austria will have to register online and provide a negative antigen or PCR test for COVID-19 once a week. See the full story here.

Latest COVID-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Feb. 3, 2021)

  • Active cases 93,043
  • New cases 9,057
  • Deaths 16,683
  • Currently hospitalized 5,811
  • PCR tests performed 4,654,269
  • Antigen tests performed 1,657,852
  • Reported vaccinations 294,692