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Corona virus

SARS-CoV-2

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Reinfections

Number of confirmed cases of infection and confirmed and probable cases of reinfection by month of laboratory diagnosis (as of 12/05/2022). For the surveillance period May, 2020 to May 2021 (period A), the definition according to the RKI for reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 was applied. For the surveillance period after May 2021 (period B), the definition according to the Ministry of Health (Austria) for reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 was applied.

Period A, confirmed reinfection: genome sequence of virus from previous SARS-CoV-2 infection is known AND genome sequence of virus from current SARS-CoV-2 infection is known AND viral genome sequences of previous and current SARS-CoV-2 infection do not match.

Period A, probable reinfection: person has tested negative by PCR testing conclusively at least once after previous SARS-CoV-2 infection and has achieved recovered status OR the most recent PCR-based evidence of SARS-CoV2 infection was more than 3 months ago AND the person again meets the laboratory criteria of the case definition for a confirmed case.

Period B, confirmed reinfection: genome sequence of virus from previous SARS-CoV-2 infection is known AND genome sequence of virus from current SARS-CoV-2 infection is known AND viral genome sequences of previous and current SARS-CoV-2 infection do not match.

Period B, probable reinfection: person has tested negative by PCR testing conclusively at least once after the previous SARS-CoV-2 infection AND has achieved recovered status OR the most recent PCR-based evidence of SARS-CoV2 infection was more than 2 months ago AND the person again meets the laboratory criteria of the case definition for a confirmed case.

Vaccine effectiveness

Preliminary results from a population-based cohort study of the effectiveness of vaccine- and infection-induced immunization against SARS-CoV-2 variant omicron infection (includes all infections, regardless of clinical manifestation, regardless of severity of clinical manifestation) suggest high protective efficacy in the population group with combination vaccine- and infection-induced immunization (referred to as hybrid immunity) and in the population group with triple vaccination.

Among 12-17-, 18-59-, and 60-74-year-olds who had undergone more than 2 immunologic events (infection-induced +/- vaccination-induced immunization with >2 immunologic events, ie. infected multiple times, vaccinated + infected, or infected + vaccinated), there was a relative infection risk reduction compared with the immunnaive population group of 78.37% (95% CI: 76.86%-79.80%), 77.63% (95%CI: 76.89%-78.34%), and 88.94% (95% CI: 88.17%-89.67%), respectively. Similarly, among 5-11 year olds, protective efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 variant Omikron infection for this category of immunization was 76.30% (95%CI: 72.63% - 79.59%).

SARS-CoV-2 variants in Austria

Certain variants are listed as so-called "Variants of Concern" by national and international health organizations and agencies; WHO lists the following variants:

  • B.1.617.2 (Delta)
  • B.1.1.529 (Omicron, BA.1, BA.2, BA.3, BA.4, BA.5)

Anzahl der bestätigten SARS-CoV-2 Fälle und der Variants of Concern, Österreich

Austria, number of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases and Variants of Concern identified based on PCR testing or sequencing (Sanger sequencing, SARSeq sequencing, or whole genome sequencing) by calendar week (EMS case data status 24/06/2022, 07:00). For calendar week 24, subsequent reports are expected.

Austria-wide surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 variants.

In Austria, there are currently two SARS-CoV-2 variant surveillance systems: the case-based system and the sentinel system. The two systems have different objectives, which must also be taken into account when assessing whether the systems meet them. Otherwise, it is easy to make a wrong judgment.

Case-based variant surveillance system

In the case-based variant surveillance system, SARS-CoV-2-positive samples are analyzed by PCR-based methods for those mutations that provide evidence of the viral variant present. The Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection, based on international recommendations, specifies which variants of concern should be tested for in each case.

Since February 2021, a variant surveillance system has been established, consisting of numerous laboratories distributed throughout Austria. With this system, both the occurrence of the alpha variant and the transition from the alpha variant to the delta variant could be successfully detected.

With the emergence of the new Omicron variant of concern, these laboratories have started to expand their testing procedures to be able to detect this variant as well. In the meantime, the expansion of these test procedures has progressed to the point where a relatively good overview of the spread of the Omikron variant is available.

Complex genome sequencing is only required in the case-based variant surveillance system if the result of the PCR-based test procedure does not allow a clear assignment to a variant of concern.

Sentinel variant surveillance system

In addition to the case-based variant surveillance system, there is the sentinel variant surveillance system, which consists of a few laboratories, each representing a state. Under this system, SARS-CoV-2 positive samples are subjected to whole genome sequencing. Samples are selected on a random basis. The goal of this surveillance system is to detect the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants with reliable accuracy. In contrast to the case-based variant surveillance system, the time factor is less relevant here, since the main objective is to identify new variants.

Monthly Reports Sentinel Variant Survival System

The GISAID Austria Report lists the sequencing results uploaded to GISAID by Austrian laboratories and institutes. GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data) is a global scientific initiative that aims to make genomic data on influenza or SARS-CoV-2 viruses freely available and to ensure the rapid and straightforward exchange of all available data. Laboratories and institutes in Austria that are involved in the sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 viruses already make their results available on a voluntary basis as part of the GISAID initiative.

Variants of Concern (VOC)

B.1.617.2 (Delta)

Variant B.1.617 (with subvariants B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2, and B.1.617.3) was first found in the Indian state of Maharashtra. There is evidence that variant B.1.617.2 (delta) is more transmissible and may be associated with reduced efficacy of the immune response. The N501Y mutation is not present in these variants.

European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) risk assessment.

B.1.1.529 (Omicron).

In early November 2021, a SARS-CoV-2 variant was discovered that belongs to the Pango lineage B.1.1.529 and has a high number of S gene mutations compared to the original virus. On November 26, 2021, the variant was classified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) and given the designation Omikron. The variant is characterized by 30 alterations in the spike protein, and was first detected in samples collected in Botswana on November 11, 2021, and in South Africa on November 14, 2021. Due to increased transmissibility, the Omikron variant has currently become the dominant variant worldwide, but in general it causes much milder disease than its predecessors. Meanwhile, numerous subvariants of Omikron have also become established (BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2, BA.3, BA.4, and BA.5).

Risk assessment by the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC).

7-day incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection by number of immunologic events

With the current low incidence of infection, the 7-day incidence of infection is no longer appropriate for measuring vaccine protective efficacy, regardless of the severity of the course. Instead, the 7-day incidence of infection with SARS-CoV-2 of the population with infection-induced and infection/vaccination-induced immunization (i.e., hybrid immunization) is presented. Immunologic events are infection and vaccination; <= 2 immunologic events means max 2 times infected or 1 time infected and 1 time vaccinated; > 2 immunologic events means multiple times infected, vaccinated + infected, or infected + vaccinated. Currently, no information on deceased or spoiled status is available for the population dataset on which the analyses are based. Since this would have an impact on the analyses for the population group >74 years in particular, this age group is excluded from the analysis until these data are available.

For the period of the last seven days, subsequent reports can be expected in the following days, which may result in changes.

Inzidenz nach Anzahl immunologischer Events

Epidemiological clarification - cluster analysis

Every week, we publish the estimated effective reproduction number (Reff) for Austria and by province, as well as the estimated rate of increase, the so-called epidemiological parameters.

Since source tracing to identify the case-based setting in which infection transmission occurred is no longer possible for reasons of high case volume (thus no comprehensive individual case surveys for possible source of infection are possible) and priority contact management (no complete recording of contact persons suspected of being infected), the "active case-based surveillance of the transmission setting" will be changed to cluster surveillance, which will be targeted at epidemiologically relevant settings such as community facilities (educational institutions, childcare facilities, old people's and nursing homes, facilities for the disabled, bed-managing hospitals, rehabilitation/spa facilities, judicial institutions, convents, residential homes).

Specialized information

Technical information, recommendations for action, and general information materials on coronavirus can be found on the Ministry of Health website.

Product information (technical and directions for use) on the COVID-19 vaccines can be found at the Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG)

Last updated: 24.06.2022

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