Belgium, historically a crossroads between rival European powers, now is home to the European Union’s nerve center in Brussels. I have been following De Standaard (in Dutch) for updates on the situation there.
This article quotes virologust Steven De Gucht. A few bullet points:
- 485 new hospital admissions in the past 24 hours
- 94 new fatalities, but this included deaths since March 11 from care centers for the elderly that had not percolated through the reporting yet (all above age 65). Total mortality is 705, of whom 93 percent are over age 65
- the youngest victim yet is a thus far unique case of a 12-year old girl. Her status deteriorated suddenly after 3 days of fever. [Cytokine storm?!] De Gucht calls for investigating this rare and anomalous case in detail
- 876 new cases, the second drop in a row
- hospital admissions, at 485, are likewise down for the 2nd time. Total COVID19 hospital population is 4,920 — that number keeps mounting as COVID19 patients tend to be in for long hospital stays. 168 patients were discharged today.
- 1,021 patients total are in intensive care (an increase by 94).
- 786 patients need respiratory assistance of some sorts
- 20 are on ECMO (“heart-lung machines”)
- the article is accompanied by the following infographic:
Elsewhere today, the same paper quotes medical sources as saying, “we’re off the Italian track, but not yet onto the Scandinavian one” . The subtitle says, “wait another few days to see if we’re really past the peak”.
And in what sounds like a bold bet, Johnson & Johnson, parent of local Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, is planning to take a vaccine into production even while the clinical trial is running. It expects to be up to full production early next year. The article quotes Johan van Hoof, director of the vaccines division of Janssen, as saying “Theoretically this could go wrong. But we have enough experience with vaccines to be very optimistic. This virus uses the same ‘key’ [i.e., the so-called “spike protein] to penetrate the lungs as SARS did. So we know we can protect people if we can make the right antibodies be produced by the body.” [A DNA vaccine for the original SARS that expressed the spike protein never saw wide application in humans as the epidemic died out first.]
UPDATE: this isn’t Belgium, but in New York, Rabbi Daniel Nevins, dean of the Jewish Theological Seminary, who recovered from a mild case of COVID-19 earlier this month, is now donating plasma for an antibody therapy trial. https://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Rabbinical-school-dean-participates-in-experimental-coronavirus-treatment-622670