By Peter Nindler
Innsbruck, Vienna – Nothing will change in the schedule of the Tyrolean vaccination strategy, the 27,000 over 80-year-olds who have registered for a vaccination will receive one in March. Rather, it is supplemented with an additional vaccination from the EU. “This will not change anything for the other federal states,” Health Minister Rudi Anschober (Greens) wants to take the wind out of the sails of a debate about envy.
The black-green state government has been pushing for a vaccination of the local population for weeks because of the South African coronavirus mutation, which occurs mainly in the Schwaz district. So far in vain. “If the Schwaz district is already a European hotspot for the South African variant, then a European solution is also needed. We have now achieved this, ”emphasize Federal Chancellor Kurz (ÖVP) and LH Günther Platter (VP).
📽️ Video | Field study: Large vaccination campaign in Schwaz
But how was the early delivery of 100,000 vaccine doses from BioNTech / Pfizer possible? Because the vaccination of the 84,000 residents of the district is scientifically monitored. All persons over the age of 16 who are willing to be vaccinated are vaccinated. The district will become a scientific model region of the EU, in which top-class domestic and international scientists such as Florian Krammer will research the effects of the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine on the spread and containment of the South African virus mutation. That was the door opener for the approval of all EU member states.
Therefore, the mandatory exit test from Tyrol still applies until March 10th, and immunization in the Schwaz district begins the next day. There, however, the residents still need a negative Covid test until they have received the first dose of vaccine when they leave their region. The police will carry out random checks. At the end of March, the obligation to test when leaving the country ends for the “Schwazer”. Meanwhile, Germany has extended the entry ban for Tyroleans until March 17th.
📽️ Video | Infectiologist Kollaritsch on the vaccination campaign in Schwaz
Also vaccinate for open borders
The number of new infections will increase in the next few days. Austria-wide. A significantly higher incidence of infections can also be expected in Tyrol. 171 infections were recorded on Wednesday. What has halved are the active positives infected with the South African coronavirus variant: from around 200 cases at the beginning of February to 88 now. 66 of these, however, are in the Schwaz district. Yesterday, nine more suspected cases were added. Of the 31 positive tests in the 4,240 PCR tests carried out in Mayrhofen, eleven can be traced back to the significantly more contagious virus mutation, which is more resistant to vaccination.
📽️ Video | Statement by Governor Günther
The federal government still wanted to extend the mandatory exit test for Tyrol to other federal states, which was imposed until Wednesday, but the arguments for this have since run out. After all, the share of the South Africa virus in infections in Tyrol is currently “only” 5.11 percent. On the other hand, the state government has been calling for a protective vaccination screen as an additional measure for the district for weeks. Also as a signal to Germany. After all, Tyrol is considered a virus variant area there. There is an entry ban, which Berlin extended on Wednesday, as expected, until March 17th.
Tyrolean LH Günther Platter (VP) and Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) had been talking to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen about an additional vaccine delivery for days. In the end, she was able to convince all the other 26 EU members of the need for extra procurement for Tyrol with 100,000 vaccine doses from BioNTech.
📽️ Video | Statement by Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz
The German entry ban should fall by the end of March at the latest, and the mandatory test in Austria will expire on March 10th. Except for the Schwaz district. There the vaccination of the population begins one day later, and after two weeks the mandatory exit test for the approximately 84,000 residents ends.
Federal Chancellor Kurz hopes that the measures will “also protect neighboring countries” that Berlin will relent. Governor Günther Platter argues similarly: “With this approach we want to convince Germany to refrain from the current border controls.” The governor renewed his criticism and considers it excessive.
The German Interior Ministry points out that the decision on border controls does not depend solely on the spread of mutated coronaviruses in a neighboring country, but on measures that would be taken there to contain the pandemic.
“A right step”
The reactions to the vaccination protection screen were positive. “This prevents the mutation from spreading, which is why participation is in the interests of all Schwazers and all of Tyrol,” said the green club boss Gebi Mair. Tyrol’s AK President Erwin Zangerl also describes the additional vaccine for the Schwaz district as the “right step”. He was the first to ask for it at the beginning of February.
The fact that Schwaz serves as a European model region is received very positively, says VP-NR Herman Gahr: “This step is viewed very positively in the district, the mayors have promised broad support for the logistics.”
For the FP regional party leader Markus Abwerzger, the “mass vaccinations are not well thought out”. (TT)