News : Coronavirus


Published January, 14h 2020

The current bulletin will be updated regularly until the situation stabilizes. Find more articles about COVID19 in our blog.

Where is information sourced from:  the most reputable international sources (WHO, Chinese CDC, CDC, international media, medical journals etc …) and government websites.


Current key news, facts and data

Since the first death from COVID-19 occurring one year ago, there have been almost 2 million deaths from the disease. The pandemic is still extremely active, especially in the United States which account for over half of all new cases worldwide. Three countries, the USA, India, and Brazil, still account for almost half the total cases, and 12 other countries have reported more than a million cases. The rate of increase has slowed down last week in some Western European countries The total worldwide cases, as of 9:47 am CET January 13th 2021, was 90 054 813 cases, 546 016 of them new, and 1 945 610 deaths.

A SARS-CoV-2 variant which has been designated as VOC 202012/01 has been recently identified through viral genomic sequencing in the United Kingdom. The UK Public Health reported on Dec 29, 2020 that the new variant appears to be no worse than the previous dominant strain of SARS-CoV-2 in terms of risk of hospital admission, severity of illness, or mortality. However, it has been found that certain mutations in this variant have increased the transmissibility of this virus explaining the massive increase of cases observed in UK. Almost 50 other countries have reported having identified the UK coronavirus variant and experts warn that more countries could report significant increases in cases.

TESTS – Getting more tests done quickly and efficiently is key. Delays in both accessing the tests and receiving the results reduce the system efficiency in isolating positive cases. PCR remains the diagnostic standard, but antigen testing has a place in screening programs and is rapidly increasing testing abilities as it is more widely accepted by authorities despite its lower sensitivity.

TREATMENT – There are still no breakthroughs in terms of treatment modalities, as aside from hydrocortisone and anticoagulants in the intensive care phase of the disease, no drug has proven to be effective in reducing the impact of the disease or the transmission of the virus.

VACCINES – Seven vaccines have been approved and large vaccine campaigns are currently being deployed in many countries.

  • BioTech/Pfizer BNT162b2 is a RNA vaccine approved in 48 countries
  • Moderna mRNA-1273 is a RNA vaccine approved in 34 countries. On January 6, 2021, the European Medicine Agency recommended granting a conditional marketing authorization for COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna to prevent Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in people from 18 years old and above. This is the second COVID-19 vaccine that EMA has recommended for authorization.
  • Gamaleya Sputnik V is a non-replicating viral vector vaccine approved in 4 countries including Russia and Argentina
  • Oxford /AstraZeneca AZD1222 is a non-replicating viral vector vaccine approved in 5 countries including Argentina, India and United Kingdom. On January 12 2021, the European Medicine Agency received an application for conditional marketing authorisation (CMA) fro this vaccine.
  • Serum Institute of India Covishield is a non-replicating viral vector vaccine approved in India
  • Bharat Biotech Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine approved in India
  • Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV is an inactivated vaccine approved in 5 countries including China
    The UK Public Health claimed there was currently no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 vaccines would not protect against the mutated virus variants. Even if some very recent reports from Israel suggest that vaccines might reduce the virus circulation, there is currently yet no definitive evidence supporting that Covid-vaccines protect against infection.
    As reported by Our World in Data, almost 30 million of people have received a single dose of vaccine worldwide. Three countries, US, China and United-Kingdom still account for almost two-third of the cases.


Key recommended actions items

At the current stage, social distancing remains the most important tool. Avoiding close personal contacts except with non-fragile members of one’s own household is the key. The avoidance of any public or private event producing large groups or close physical contacts is part of this action item.
A necessary addition to this component of the strategy is the obligation from anyone with the symptoms or close contacts with detected case to isolate him/herself, seek medical attention and get tested if indicated. To this, the active use of regular cleaning with either soap and water or hydroalcoholic gel must be added. The proper use of masks is a recognized must in all closed and / or crowded environments. Anyone positively tested must submit him- or herself to a quarantine period.
Travel is acceptable where allowed in as much as the above are respected, and temperature control can be added as a means of detecting part of the potential carriers. Limitations have been put in place all over the world, being different from country to another. EA operations keep data available on the current limitations. Objectively PCR testing before departure and at arrival each way are considered sufficient.

Quite a few patients with COVID, especially those in countries where it is difficult to provide high end care to critical cases, but not only, repatriations have taken place. This requires a fairly challenging authorization process both in the country of origin and at the country of destination. Several providers in Europe, Africa and the Americas provide this service.