Covid-19 Update

Commentary is updated weekly. Last commentary updated February 24th, 2021. 

February 24: For a third week in a row the number of global Covid-19 cases fell, with the WHO reporting that infection rates had decreased by 10% this week, following a 16% fall last week. The dip in infections was mirrored in a corresponding fall in weekly deaths across a number of regions of the globe. Asia and Europe saw death rates fall significantly and mortality rates levelled out in South America and the Middle East. In the US, despite falling infections, the death rate has started to tick up again, making the country’s vaccine rollout even more important.

Round up of cases and deaths

Worldwide – There continues to be a dip in the global week-on-week number of new cases of coronavirus infections, driven by falls in weekly averages in the majority of the world’s most populous countries including the US, India and Brazil. Italy and Turkey were among the few countries this week to report rises in their weekly infection rates. Total global Covid-19 cases are now close to 110 million, and 2.4 million people globally have so far lost their lives.

US – The recent dramatic fall in US infection rates looks to have plateaued slightly. After infection numbers fell from over a million to just 687,440 last week, this week the decline was less than 2,000 cases. The country has also passed the grim milestone of over 500,000 deaths, a figure achieved after these data were pulled. The US, which has led the world in Covid-19 mortality, now has twice as many deaths as Brazil, the second most impacted country globally. In terms of deaths per capita, the US is ninth, behind countries including the UK, Belgium and Italy.

Europe – Hungary is the first country in the EU to start inoculations using the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. The country broke lockstep with the rest of the bloc to order its own supplies of the Chinese vaccine and Russia’s Sputnik V shot, following criticisms of the slow pace of vaccine rollout in the wider EU. In a reflection of the falling number of cases across the continent more countries are easing lockdown restrictions, with the Netherlands expected to allow schools and hairdressers to reopen. Ireland is also opening up its schools next week and Switzerland is planning on opening shops, museums and libraries from the beginning of March. In contrast, the Czech Republic is increasing its lockdown restrictions as it experiences one of the highest infection rates in Europe per capita and risks running out of hospital beds.   

Asia – With its vaccine rollout underway and infection rates falling, some Japanese regions are lobbying the government to ease some of the country’s emergency pandemic measures that have seen bars and non-essential shops close. Easing of restrictions would also give more confidence that the Olympic Games will be able to go ahead this summer. Singapore has joined a growing number of countries considering the mutual recognition of vaccine certificates with other countries. The ability to accept proof of vaccination from other countries or vaccination passports will be a vital step towards international travel.

ROW – In a recognition that no one is safe from the Covid-19 pandemic until we are all safe, Ghana became the first country to receive vaccine supplies from Covax, the WHO-led global vaccine sharing scheme. The country welcomed 600,000 doses of the Astrazeneca/Oxford vaccine. Following the end of a three-day lock down last week, New Zealand has found another three cases of community infection, causing it to close a high school in Auckland. However, rather than raising the alert level or imposing a new lockdown, the country is relying on track and trace to limit this new outbreak.

Coronavirus in top 20 economic powers
Country Total cases Total deaths New cases week ending: 19/02/2021 New cases week ending: 12/02/2021 New cases vs previous week
World 109,208,717 2,407,509 2,733,004 3,025,409 Down
United States 27,694,168 486,325 685,603 687,440 Down
India 10,916,589 155,732 78,395 80,584 Down
Brazil 9,866,710 239,773 318,631 318,757 Down
Russia 4,086,090 80,520 102,893 115,110 Down
United Kingdom 4,038,078 117,166 78,294 142,608 Down
France 3,465,163 81,814 128,115 139,934 Down
Italy 2,721,879 93,577 85,141 83,706 Up
Spain 3,086,286 65,449 97,201 166,280 Down
Germany 2,338,987 65,076 50,442 66,574 Down
Mexico 1,995,892 174,657 59,879 66,305 Down
Turkey 2,586,183 27,471 54,727 53,993 Up
Netherlands 1,030,786 14,826 24,069 26,270 Down
Indonesia 1,217,468 33,183 59,631 79,523 Down
Canada 826,924 21,311 18,804 24,531 Down
Switzerland 540,593 9,020 8,038 10,027 Down
Saudi Arabia 372,732 6,433 2,454 2,204 Up
Japan 415,782 6,952 10,792 15,472 Down
China 100,599 4,829 211 325 Down
South Korea 83,869 1,527 2,684 2,677 Up
Australia 28,900 909 50 32 Up
Source: ECDC as of 17:00 GMT and Evaluate research.
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