Rest of the world
Average peak new cases per day
LONDON-A month ago, this pandemic looked bleak. More than 750,000 coronavirus cases are handled globally every day. There has been a surge in infections throughout the United States. New variants discovered in Britain, Brazil and South Africa threaten the rest of the world.
But last month brought a surprisingly fast (or even partial) turnaround. The number of new cases has fallen to half of the global peak, mainly due to steady improvement in some places that experienced devastating outbreaks in winter.
The cases are imperfect measures, and uneven recording and testing cover up the scope of the epidemic, especially in parts of Africa, Latin America and South Asia. However, in many countries, there are fewer patients in hospitals with the highest infection rates, which leads experts to believe that this decline is real.
Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiologist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said: “This is an important moment of optimism, but in many ways it is also very fragile.” “We see the light at the end of the tunnel, but It is still a long tunnel.”
How cases have changed in countries/regions with the worst outbreaks
Number of new cases per 100,000 people, an average of 7 days
Significant reduction in cases 28 country
Case reduction 17 country
Case flat 10 country
Increase in cases twenty three country
Note: The percentage change is calculated based on the exchange rate 28 days ago. Only include countries with an outbreak rate of more than 10 cases per 100,000 people and a population of more than 1 million people since October 1.
As vaccines begin to take effect, the cessation of many of the world’s worst outbreaks provides a critical opportunity to keep the virus from shrinking. Experts believe that so far, vaccines have not played a role in slowing the spread of most epidemics, but a small number of countries (mainly rich countries) plan to vaccinate vulnerable people before spring.
Positive signs are accompanied by many warnings and risks.
Many countries are still struggling. Faced with the new variants discovered in Brazil, Brazil is struggling with a serious revival. Although official statistics show a decline in new cases, hospitalization in Spain is still higher than ever. In some European countries (Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovakia), the infection rate is getting worse.
More contagious variants, or simply the loss of social distancing and other control measures, may still bring new peaks of infection, which may outweigh the positive effects of vaccines. A variant originally discovered in the United Kingdom is rapidly spreading in the United States and has been implicated in the surge in Ireland, Portugal and Jordan.
Although cases in most countries have declined in the past month, the decline in the global total is mainly driven by six countries with severe epidemics.
Six countries account for most of the global decrease in new cases
Reduce new cases since January 11
Note: The case is shown as a 7-day average.
There is no single reason behind the slowdown, and these factors may vary in different places. Public health experts in the worst-hit countries attributed this progress to increased adherence to social distancing and wearing masks, seasonal changes in the virus, and increased natural immunity among populations with high rates of infection.
It may not be enough to consider each factor individually. For example, it is believed that natural immunity is far from sufficient to prevent the spread of epidemics. However, these factors can jointly reduce the spread of the virus.
Kaitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, said that although the United States did not impose a national ban, voluntary changes in behavior and a certain degree of immunity in hard-hit areas may help prevent after the holiday The consequences are more serious. .
Dr. Rivers said: “The situation has become very bad throughout the winter. I think people have seen the bad situation in their communities and made different choices.” “They canceled parties, stayed at home more and reached out. Go get the mask, those things really help and can reduce transmission.”
Marc Mendelson, head of infectious disease and AIDS medicine at the University of Cape Town, said there are many reasons for the decline in South Africa, but the main driver is the absolute intensity of the infection rate last month.
He said: “At some point, the virus encountered obstacles because it couldn’t find new people to infect and it was no longer able to increase its spread.”
British experts attribute this decline to the country’s strict blockade policy after the holiday. The vaccine did not explain: Even if a quarter of the population had been vaccinated, by January 10, when the number of cases began to decrease, only the earliest recipients were effectively protected. These early doses are mainly used by medical staff and elderly patients already in the hospital.
Dr. Sadr, a researcher at Columbia University, said that some of the worst outbreaks across the Americas, Southern Africa and Europe peaked during or just after the holidays. “In the past few months, people have experienced many such occasions, socializing with family and friends, mixing and traveling. I think this may also be driving this growth.”
In countries with slower vaccination schedules, the challenge of reducing infections until the vaccine becomes effective will be greater.
According to data from the World Health Organization, as of the beginning of this month, vaccinations have not started at all in 130 countries, and more than three-quarters of vaccinations have been administered in only 10 countries. Many rich countries are accumulating potions in doses, ordering enough immunizations for their residents, while poorer countries have not yet received any vaccines.
A discovery in South Africa showed that the AstraZeneca vaccine had little effect on rapidly spreading variants, which dealt another blow to countries that plan to include relatively cheap and easy-to-storable vaccines as part of their promotion plans.
Dr. Mendelson said: “We have just started our vaccine campaign in South Africa, which will be very slow and far from what we want to achieve now.” “For countries that have vaccines, the situation is slightly different. ”
Experts believe that if the country can vaccinate the vast population, the vaccine will play a key role in controlling infection, preventing hospitalization and death, and even reducing the chance of future mutations. But the next period is crucial to avoid another wave of infections.
Bruno Ciancio, Director of Disease Surveillance at the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said: “Here, we can use a small opportunity to take advantage of the declining number of new infections.” “We must continue to adopt public health measures. And vaccinate as many people as possible.”