Global COVID-19 patterns show more signs of decline

COVID vaccination in Uganda
COVID vaccination in Uganda

USAID / Flickr cc

Cases, as well as deaths, continue to drop globally, but infections continue at very high levels, with about 3.4 million cases recorded over the past week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its weekly pandemic update yesterday.

Delta still targeting vulnerable spots

Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, the WHO's technical lead for COVID-19, said yesterday on Twitter that the trends show a mixed picture, with far too many cases continuing to be reported when the world has the tools to drastically cut the numbers of illnesses and deaths.

In a promising development, cases dropped across all WHO regions, with deaths falling in all parts of the world except for Africa, she said. However, Van Kerkhove said a big concern is that intense hot spots remain across all of the world's regions. "Delta circulates efficiently amongst unvaccinated populations where public health measures are not in place."

According to the WHO update, the steepest drops occurred in the Middle East, followed by the Western Pacific and the Americas. Few countries expect for Singapore and Laos reported sharp increases, though some European countries—such as the Russia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom—reported modest rises.

Two more countries reported their first Delta (B1617.2) variant detections, putting the total number of countries with Delta at 187.

More global headlines

  • Africa will fall short of the WHO target of vaccinating 40% of country populations by the end of the year, as the region faces a 500 million-dose shortage, the WHO's African regional office said yesterday in its weekly outbreaks and health emergencies report. The shortage is related to a projected cutback in COVAX doses for the rest of the year. Currently, about 4.02% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

  • The WHO's Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said today that it has entered an agreement with Sinovac and is in advanced talks with other companies to buy additional COVID-19 vaccine, with the goal of bolstering supplies though bilateral deals and doses from COVAX. Ten countries in the region have vaccinated 70% of their populations, but 10 countries and territories reaching only 20%, with only 1% protected in Haiti so far.

  • New Zealand reported a jump in cases today, with 45 new infections reported, following a string of single-digit daily case totals, according to Reuters. All occurred in Auckland, and most were linked to known clusters. Officials said they expect occasional upticks in cases.

  • Though many countries are rethinking the goal of returning to zero COVID-19 cases, especially with the highly transmissible Delta variant, China is doubling down on keeping cases as low and possible and opened a 5,000-room quarantine center in Guangdong province for foreign travelers, according to CNN. Other Chinese business hubs are building or planning to build similar facilities.

  • The global total today topped 233 million, rising to 233,088,494 cases, along with 4,770,309 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

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