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Coronavirus Infoline

General information on transmission, symptoms, prevention and vaccination (7 days a week, 0 to 24 h) on 0800 555 621.

Attention. If you have symptoms or fear to be ill, please stay at home and dial 1450 or contact your family doctor.

FAQ Coronavirus

Vaccination

In Austria, the Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG) records all suspected adverse reactions to medicinal products and vaccines that have occurred in Austria and are reported by health care professionals or patients. In Austria, patients and their relatives can voluntarily report adverse drug reactions directly to the BASG. Physicians, pharmacists and other health care professionals are required by law to report adverse drug reactions. After processing and evaluation, the data are forwarded to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in accordance with the applicable European laws and directives. The data are thus available to the national drug regulatory authorities responsible for these approvals and also to all other European drug regulatory authorities for ongoing safety monitoring. In close cooperation with the EU network of authorities, the risk-benefit balance of all approved medicines is monitored on an ongoing basis. The Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) analyzes all aspects relevant to the safety and efficacy of a vaccine. If necessary, new side effects are added to the technical information and directions for use of the respective vaccine or other measures are set to ensure safe and effective use.

According to the recommendations of the National Vaccination Committee, paracetamol can be taken as a preventive measure about 6 hours after vaccination - if necessary repeated every 6 hours for the following 24 to 48 hours. It can be assumed that the effect of the vaccination is not impaired. In any case, please discuss with your doctor whether taking paracetamol is suitable for your individual situation.

According to current knowledge, vaccination offers individual protection against contracting COVID-19. Initial studies suggest that individuals are less contagious after COVID-19 vaccination. How much the risk of still being contagious is reduced by vaccination has not yet been determined and is also likely to depend on the vaccine and the infecting SARS-CoV-2 variant.

This essentially depends on whether and how the corona virus changes over time: Currently, this virus is thought to change more slowly than influenza viruses, but it is not possible to predict this concretely. Therefore, changes (mutations) in the SARS-CoV-2 virus are being closely monitored so that it can be determined in time whether an adjustment of the vaccine is necessary.

Booster vaccination at 18 years of age and older is currently approved for both mRNA vaccines (Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna). The National Immunization Panel (NIG) also recommends booster vaccination starting at age 18 - with Pfizer BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine starting at age 18, and with Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine starting at age 30.

Permitted are booster vaccinations starting 6 months after the 2nd vaccination for the respective product series: i.e. 1st, 2nd and 3rd (booster) vaccination with the same vaccine each, thus without vaccine change. All other combinations for a booster do not comply with the approval and are therefore "off-label applications".

The NIG generally recommends boostering with the same mRNA vaccine (Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna) used previously, but allows vaccine switching among mRNA vaccines for boostering. However, with the caveat that based on international safety reports (increased incidence of myocarditis in younger adults), the NIG currently recommends that Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine not be used in persons younger than 30 years of age. Instead, Pfizer BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine should be used, even if this results in a product change.

Similarly, as a booster for vaccinations with Janssen's Covid-19 vaccine (2 doses of Janssen or 1st dose of Janssen and 2nd dose of Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna), the NIG recommends a 3rd vaccination with an mRNA vaccine only (Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna, for Moderna only over 30 years of age).

After 2 doses with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA vaccines (Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna) are recommended for booster 6 months after the 2nd dose; again, the age limit of 30 years (Moderna) should be considered when choosing a product.

There are separate recommendations for convalescents and persons with weakened immune systems.

More information in the recommendations for use of the National Vaccination Committee.

No, no vaccination guarantees one hundred percent protection. Nor can any other drug guarantee one hundred percent effectiveness for every patient.

With vaccines, local reactions at the injection site (e.g., redness, pain) and general reactions such as headache, aching limbs, chills, increased temperature, fever, and malaise are common. While this can be unpleasant, these side effects are usually harmless and disappear after a few days. They show that the human immune system is responding to the vaccine.

Very rare side effects cannot be detected until a vaccine is licensed and used in a much larger population than is possible in clinical trials. Therefore, vaccines continue to be monitored after approval. Manufacturers may be required to conduct long-term studies after approval, the results of which they must also submit to the authorities. However, no drug or vaccine can guarantee absolute safety.

Not every sign of illness that occurs in temporal connection with a vaccination is also due to the vaccination. When vaccines are administered to very large numbers of people, there is an increased likelihood of symptoms occurring after vaccination that were not triggered by the vaccination but by other causes, such as another illness that occurred at the same time or shortly thereafter.

The weekly updated report on reports of suspected adverse reactions is available for download on the website of the Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG).

The list of possible side effects can be found in the instructions for use of the vaccines.

Yes, in very rare cases, approvals for vaccines are revoked again if the data situation or the benefit-risk ratio changes significantly (e.g., previously unknown and severe side effects occur frequently). If the approval is revoked, the vaccine must be withdrawn from the market immediately.

A manufacturer whose vaccine has already been approved in a non-EU country can also apply to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for approval. The prerequisite for this is that the manufacturer has a company headquarters in the EU. Where the vaccine is produced is irrelevant. In any case, the same strict criteria regarding quality, efficacy and safety apply for approval by the EMA and for monitoring of use as for vaccines first approved in the EU.

Transmission

Viruses are constantly changing through mutation; studies of the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have shown that one such mutation occurs about every two weeks. Most newly occurring mutations do not affect the spread of the virus or the severity of the disease. However, some mutations or combinations of mutations may give the virus an advantage, such as increased transmissibility or the ability to evade the host immune response, but may also have an impact on disease severity. Currently, the WHO lists the following Variants of Concern: B.1.1.529, the ocicron variant; B.1.617.2, the delta variant; B.1.351, the beta variant; and P.1, the gamma variant. These variants are more transmissible and have become the predominant SARS-CoV-2 virus type in some regions of the world in the past. Currently, the omicron variant dominates the infection events in Austria.

In epidemiology, a cluster is defined as an accumulation of cases within a certain period of time in a certain region. If there is a temporal and spatial correlation, two or more cases are considered a cluster.

Asymptomatically infected persons are those who carry the virus but do not show any symptoms. It is now assumed that around 20 percent of infected persons fall into this group. A distinction must be made between so-called pre-symptomatically infected persons: they are already contagious (= infectious) one to two days before the onset of symptoms.

Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurs mainly via droplets, e.g., when speaking loudly, singing loudly, or coughing or sneezing. In certain situations, transmission can also occur via the even smaller aerosols (finest airborne liquid particles), which can remain suspended in the air for a longer period of time, e.g. when many people gather in insufficiently ventilated indoor spaces.

A superspreading event is an event in which one person infects significantly more people than is the case on average. Studies have shown that about 20 percent of those infected cause the majority of infections. However, the setting, i.e., the place and time of infection (enclosed spaces, poor ventilation, activities such as loud talking, shouting or singing), appears to have a greater role in causing a superspreading event.

Children of any age can become infected with SARS-CoV-2 and also transmit the virus. However, cases in younger children appear to be less likely to result in onward transmission than cases in older children and adults. Children, however, have a much lower likelihood of severe illness or fatality than all other age groups, according to current data. The exact burden of COVID-19 and its long-term effects on children is the subject of ongoing research.

No: Meat, sausage, eggs, fruit, vegetables, water, etc. do not pose a risk from the novel coronavirus. There is currently no evidence that humans have been infected with the novel coronavirus through conventional foods or through drinking water/pipe water or surface water. There are also no known reports of foodborne infections for other coronaviruses. However, consumption of raw meat or blood from wild animals such as snakes, bats, etc. is strongly discouraged.

Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR): Questions and answers on the topic

European Food Safety Authority

Various domestic, pet, and wild/zoo animal species, such as felines (including large cats such as tigers, lions, etc.), dogs, ferrets, tanuki, deer, golden hamsters, rabbits, and various primates (e.g., gorillas) can become infected with the COVID-19 pathogen SARS-CoV-2. In all known cases of natural infection, it most likely occurred via infected humans. Poultry, horses, cattle, and pigs may not be infected or may be very inefficiently infected. The severity of clinical signs ranges from subclinical (i.e., no signs of disease) to mostly mild clinical signs (primarily felines and ferrets as well as minks), depending on the species affected; according to current knowledge, the animals play no role in the spread of infection. An exception is mink from commercial fur farms, where infection of exposed humans from mink has been documented.

Pending information to the contrary, despite the emergence of new viral variants, pets and domestic animals are not expected to play a significant role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, regardless of the current situation, basic hygiene rules, such as thorough hand washing with soap after contact with animals or their excreta, should be observed. If pet owners themselves are confirmed to be infected with this virus, it is advisable to minimize contact with susceptible pets such as cats and dogs (just as you would with human roommates or family members), wear a face mask (FFP2 mask), and wash your hands thoroughly with soap before and after any contact with your pet. If possible, care of the animal should be given priority by a healthy (uninfected) person.

Based on current knowledge, it is not necessary or advisable to separate from pets in the event of either human or animal infection.

 

Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut: What is the role of domestic and farm animals?

World Animal Health Organization (OIE): FAQ Coronavirus and Pets.

There is no evidence that commercial goods (e.g. toys) pose a risk. Exactly how long the virus remains on surfaces is unclear at this time. If you cough or sneeze into your hand and then touch a doorknob or handle your phone and pass it around, the virus can theoretically be transmitted that way. Due to the low environmental stability of coronaviruses, it is unlikely, based on current knowledge, that imported goods could be the source of infection.

Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR): Questions and answers on the topic

Disease

Human-to-human transmission represents the most important route of infection. In addition to respiratory tract secretions and saliva, excretions (urine, stool) and body fluids (blood, pleural fluid, joint punctates, etc.) could also be infectious. Transmission of the virus from one contagious person to another is possible as early as 1 to 2 days before symptom onset. Transmission by persons who were infected and contagious but did not become ill at all (asymptomatic transmission) is also possible.

The incubation period (time between infection and onset of disease symptoms) was up to 14 days for the virus variants observed to date, with an average of 5 to 6 days. With the Omikron variant, the incubation period is presumably shorter.

Infections of humans with common coronaviruses are usually mild and asymptomatic. Common signs of infection with SARS-CoV-2 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. There may also be loss of smell and taste, diarrhea, and vomiting. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death. There are also mild courses (symptoms of a cold) and infections without symptoms.

This question cannot be conclusively clarified at present. It is assumed that, as with classical coronaviruses, immunity develops. How long and to what extent this protection against re-infection lasts over longer periods of time is currently not conclusively clarified and also always depends on the circulating virus variants.

In mild to moderate disease, the possibility of infecting others is significantly reduced after more than ten days since the onset of signs of illness while remaining symptom-free. In severe illnesses and in the presence of immunodeficiency, affected individuals may remain contagious for significantly longer.

In any case, the mortality rate is significantly lower than for MERS (up to 30 percent mortality) and SARS (approx. 10 percent mortality). It is currently assumed that SARS-CoV-2 has a mortality rate of about 0.3 percent of all infected persons. However, mortality varies widely from country to country in some cases and varies by age group. For those under 25 years of age, mortality is almost zero, for those 25 to 50 years of age it is less than 0.1 percent, and for those over 65 years of age it ranges from 1 to 10 percent, depending on risk factors, and in exceptional cases it is even higher.

In general, due to the physiological and immunological changes during pregnancy, an increased susceptibility to infections cannot be completely excluded.

According to current knowledge, more than 85% of pregnant women with COVID-19 exhibit only mild or moderate symptoms, similar to a cold or flu-like infection. Severe courses with the occurrence of pneumonia or other complications requiring hospital care are rare, according to current knowledge. However, the probability of admission to an intensive care unit and the need for ventilation is increased by a factor of 2-3 in pregnant women with COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant women with COVID-19, which is roughly comparable to the situation with influenza.

Austrian Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

If there are no other medical reasons, a normal birth process is possible. Breastfeeding is also possible in principle, because it is unlikely that the virus is transmitted via breast milk.

Consequential symptoms are relatively common in COVID-19 and have come to be referred to as post-covid syndrome or long-covid. Fatigue, cognitive impairment and shortness of breath are the main symptoms, but more than 200 different symptoms have been described in affected individuals, which can last for many months.

Treatment is basically symptomatic, i.e. by alleviating the symptoms of the disease, e.g. by administering antipyretics.

Prevention

The following measures are recommended:

  • Vaccination
  • Wash your hands several times a day with soap and water or an alcohol-based disinfectant
  • Wear masks in everyday life
  • Avoid direct contact with other people (minimum distance 2 m)
  • Ventilate indoor rooms regularly

Ministry of Health:FFP2 masks, MNS and distance requirement.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) sees the use of respirators indoors as a way to reduce the spread of the virus in the population by infected individuals who have not yet developed symptoms. This recommendation is based on research showing that a relevant proportion of transmissions occur before the onset or before the first signs of illness are recognized and thus go unnoticed.

ECDC: Using face masks in the community - Reducing COVID-19 transmission from potentially asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people through the use of face masks

Coronaviruses are very sensitive to environmental influences. Under laboratory conditions, they can survive for hours to several days on smooth surfaces. However, there is no evidence that door handles, grab bars, bank bills or similar have played an important role in transmission to date; direct personal contact (longer than 15 minutes, distance less than 2 meters) currently represents the most significant transmission route.


Further information

Current situation in Austria

Information on the situation in Austria can be found here:

Current measures

Information from the Ministry of Health on the measures currently in force can be found here

Coronavirus information of the federal states

Information on labor law, travel law, schools, agriculture and food production, support

Chamber of Labor and ÖGB: Homepage for questions concerning labor law

Association for Consumer Information: Questions about traveling

Chamber of Commerce: Coronavirus Infopoint

Ministry of Education: Information and recommendations for schools and parents

Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism: Information on agriculture and food production

Federal Ministry of Labor, Family and Youth: FAQ on labor law issues (short-time work), effects on families, special care time

Aktualisiert: 19.01.2022

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