Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.
ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, not really a name that rolls off the tongue, however it could be one that becomes part of daily life. This rather long and complicated abbreviation is the name given to a vaccine for Covid-19 that Oxford University has been developing since January, and the first trials have shown that the vaccine is safe.
The studies involved 1,077 people and showed that the vaccine helped to produce antibodies and T-cells that are able to fight the Covid-19 virus, reports the BBC.
Of course, it is too early to say whether the vaccine is sufficient for protection, but the findings are very promising. The UK has already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine.
The vaccine was named ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. It is evolving at an unprecedented rate. It is made from a virus that causes colds in chimpanzees, writes the BBC.
The virus has been severely altered so that it cannot infect humans and resembles the coronavirus as much as possible. This means that the vaccine mimics it and that the immune system can ‘learn’ how to attack it.
The study found that 90 percent of people developed neutralizing antibodies after a single dose. Only ten people received two doses and all produced neutralizing antibodies.
Most research deals with antibodies, but they are only one element of the human immune system. Antibodies are tiny proteins produced by the immune system that stick to the surface of the virus and can disable it.
T-cells, a type of white blood cell, help coordinate the immune system by spotting which cells in the body are being attacked and destroying them.
Almost all effective vaccines include both antibodies and T cells. In a study by experts from Oxford, the number of T-cells jumped by 14 days and the number of antibodies 28 days after vaccination.
The vaccine is safe, but there are side effects, which are not dangerous. Fever or headache was developed by 70 percent of people. These side effects, scientists say, can be addressed with paracetamol.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done before we confirm that our vaccine will help fight the pandemic, but these results are promising,” said Sarah Gilbert of Oxford University.
The vaccine will certainly not be widely used for months to come, but according to what we have been able to see so far, important steps have been taken in the direction of the coronavirus vaccine, writes the BBC. Adding that “More than 10,000 people will take part in the next stage of the trials in the UK.”
Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine produces a good immune response, reveals new study.— University of Oxford (@UniofOxford) July 20, 2020
Teams at @VaccineTrials and @OxfordVacGroup have found there were no safety concerns, and the vaccine stimulated strong immune responses: https://t.co/krqRzXMh7B pic.twitter.com/Svd3MhCXWZ
More than 600,000 tourists are currently holidaying in Croatia, and some counties have a 60 percent occupancy rate compared to the same time last year, while by the end of the year the tourism results on a country level could reach 40 percent of last year, said Tourism Minister, Gari Cappelli, said on Monday.
"Today we have almost 600,000 tourists, mostly foreigners, and there are about 90,000 locals. Croatia is a safe destination no matter what happens," Cappelli said after a session of the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ).
Greece, he said in comparison, currently has only seven percent of turnover compared to last year. On the other hand, Croatia has over 50 percent of its turnover in July compared to last year, and more than 30 percent at the level of the previous part of the year.
He pointed out that in some counties, such as Istria and Primorje-Gorski Kotar, more than 60 percent of arrivals are realized compared to last year. According to him, tourism workers are well prepared for the epidemiological conditions in which they work.
However, the tourism results in the south of the country are considerably less positive than Istria, with Dubrovnik the hardest hit.
He stated that the prices of tourist services were reduced in a number of destinations, on average by 10 to 30 percent. The accommodation sector has seen wildly different approaches to prices. Some hotels and private apartments have stuck to the same prices from last year, whilst others have dropped them by up to 300 percent. According to online booking agencies a good sized family apartment in a central location in Dubrovnik this summer is around 50 Euros a night.
The largest tourist turnover so far this year has come from the markets of Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Austria. This is hardly surprising as tourists from these countries can drive to Croatia, with Istria being the first coastal destination.
In the last 24 hours, no new cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County.
A total of 5 people are currently hospitalized in the Dubrovnik General Hospital. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 5,268 samples have been sent to Zagreb for analysis.
There are 274 people in self-isolation, and no violation of the self-isolation measure has been established in the last 24 hours.
The headquarters of the Civil Protection continues to appeal to the citizens to adhere to all prescribed measures by the Croatian Institute of Public Health and the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia.
Better safe than sorry! Wearing a protective face mask in Croatia has been the norm, in fact the law, for the past week or so, but this is taking protection to a new level. Face masks must be worn in shops and on public transport, but wearing them in the Adriatic whilst swimming isn’t on the list of must wear destinations.
Actually swimming in a face mask must be tricky to say the least. Get that mask wet and you have a soggy mask dripping on your nose, and breathing whilst swimming must also be a challenge. But this over-protective swimmer in Cavtat yesterday wasn’t taking any chances. We can only presume that she didn’t decide to go scuba diving later.
Hats off to the swimmer for setting a new high point in the fight against Covid-19.
Krunoslav Capak, the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, said in an interview for HRT that the National Civil Protection Headquarters introduced the obligation to register all gatherings where more than 100 people will attend a week ago. He said that large gatherings are the biggest problem.
He stressed that it is important to analyse situations in which a large number of infections occur.
"It is not the first time that the local headquarters has given initiatives on the number of guests at gatherings and events. We made the decision on quarantine on Murter, on the initiative of the local headquarters, and the quarantine on Brac was also on the local initiative," said Capak.
Speaking about when a drop in the number of new cases of Covid-19 could be expected, Capak said there was a significant increase in late June.
"We have cooperation with the Ljubljana Institute of Public Health, which has an excellent epidemiologist who deals with mathematical modelling. According to his calculations, the number of infected people in Croatia should start falling," he said.
He stated that the National Headquarters did a very good job of introducing mandatory face masks, and if gatherings are limited, then the possibility of the number of newly infected people will start to decrease.
Also, he added, the working hours of nightclubs are also being discussed and that a decision could be brought in the following days.
He pointed out that in this wave of epidemics, the clinical picture is significantly weaker.
"There are only 120 hospitalized patients and nine people on a ventilator. There are 1,200 active cases. In total, a little more than 10 percent are hospitalized. In the first wave, that percentage was significantly higher – 25 percent, and at one point as much as 35 percent," Capak concluded.
In the past 24 hours Croatia has recorded 92 new cases of Covid-19, meaning that the total number of people infected is now 1,207.
There are currently 153 people in hospital across the country and 9 people are on a ventilator. Over the past 24 hours there have been no new fatalities due to Covid-19.
Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 4,345 people have been infected with the new coronavirus, of whom 120 have died and 3,018 have made a full recovery.
There are currently 4,312 people in self-isolation.
To date, a total of 103,104 people have been tested, of which 915 were tested in the last 24 hours, the National Civil Protection Headquarters announced.
In the last 24 hours in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, 1 new case of coronavirus infection was recorded. It is a male from Dubrovnik, a contact of a previously known case. And on a positive note three people from the area of Dubrovnik have made a full recovery.
At the present time a total of 5 people are hospitalized in Dubrovnik General Hospital. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 5,220 samples have been sent for analysis to Zagreb.
There are currently 279 people in self-isolation, and no violation of the self-isolation measure has been established in the last 24 hours.
The headquarters of the Civil Protection of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County continues to appeal to citizens to adhere to all prescribed measures by the Croatian Institute of Public Health and the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia. One of these measures is the obligation to wear protective face masks on all forms of public transport and in stores.
Coming up with creative ways to fight the spread of Covid-19 is important. The Tourist Board of the city of Rovinj-Rovigno has designed its own protective face mask that will be distributed to catering staff and private renters in the city.
“Due to the interesting design with the tourist logo of Rovinj, it will also be an attractive souvenir for many guests,” stated the Rovinj Tourist Board on their website.
In addition to the masks, the Tourist Board has prepared a leaflet or brochure "Info COVID-19" which is intended for guests and renters, and is available in 4 language variants (Croatian, Italian, German and English). It is designed to inform guests about what to do if a coronavirus infection occurs during their stay at the property.