Coronavirus update, Jan. 20, 2021: Co-author of PES index calls for sixth level due to British mutation

1.3 percent of the population has been vaccinated in the Czech Republic so far; President Zeman to receive vaccination today.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 20.01.2021 09:50 (updated on 20.01.2021)

The PES anti-epidemic system’s COVID index rose from 70 to 73 points out of 100 in the Czech Republic today due to the reproduction (R) number increase from 0.76 on Monday to 0.83 on Tuesday, while the other three parameters improved, the Health Ministry's data released this morning show.

The country still stays on the fourth coronavirus alert degree out of five, but the valid anti-coronavirus measures correspond to the strictest, fifth degree.

The Central Crisis Staff (ÚKS) will be debating the current epidemiological situation and the vaccination against COVID-19 today. Its chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček said on Monday that the measures from late December had helped slow down the epidemic, but that he can see no reason for the lockdown relaxation so far.

The British coronavirus mutation was confirmed in samples from Prague, Central Bohemia and Hradec Králové. regions, Helena Jiřincová, head of the reference laboratory for influenza of the National Institute of Public Health (SZÚ), said.

Jan Kulveit, a Czech expert at Oxford University, has written on Facebook that with the British mutation's incidence, the Czech Republic should adjust its set of the toughest, fifth-level coronavirus restrictions so that it curbs the epidemic more effectively.

A new, even tougher sixth-alert level should be prepared within the Health Ministry’s PES epidemic system, Kulveit said. Last autumn he assisted in creating the PES COVID risk index calculation method.

“The PES was not developed with regard to the new mutation, neither the PES risk index nor the [five-level alert system of] restrictions. Not even the fifth level may be enough to slow down the ’British’ version. It is suitable to ponder on ways to adjust the PES 5 level for it to curb [the infection] more effectively, for example by exerting pressure for vaccination and home-office regime in firms,” wrote Kulveit.

Nearly 130,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses were applied in the Czech Republic by 11 a.m. Tuesday. This means that 1.3 percent of the population has been vaccinated, which is the European average, Health Minister Jan Blatný said in the Chamber of Deputies.

Government IT commissioner Vladimír Dzurilla said later today that more than 180,000 people aged over 80 have gotten registered and 63,000 of them booked a date.

Blatný said 346,625 people should be vaccinated in January, 271,600 in February, and 662,400 in March. If the vaccine from the AstraZeneca firm is not available, the total number of doses will be about 600,000 lower, he added.

Czech President Miloš Zeman will get vaccinated against COVID in Prague's Central Military Hospital on Wednesday and will stay there until Thursday at least for a preventive checkup, he told daily Mlada frontá Dnes, calling a rejection of the vaccination a backward approach.

The readiness of Czechs to have themselves vaccinated against COVID-19 rose to 46 percent in January from about one-third in the previous three months, with the highest interest in it being shown by those over 55, according to a poll released by the European National Panel.

The poll shows that the interest in the COVID vaccination is the lowest among the Czechs aged from 25 to 34.

Out of those polled, 28 percent said they will definitively seek vaccination, and 18 percent said they will probably do so.

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In similar public opinion polls last October, November and December, only 11–14 percent respondents were definitely interested and over 20 percent probably.

Latest COVID data from the Czech Ministry of Health (Jan. 20, 2021)

  • Active cases 126,561
  • New cases 9,558
  • Deaths 14,820
  • Currently hospitalized 6,608
  • PCR tests performed 4,325,726
  • Antigen tests performed 1,277,379
  • Reported vaccinations 70,680 (* a cumulative number of all reported vaccine doses as of Jan. 13, 2021, at 6 pm. Updated every Thursday).
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