Global COVID-19 cases climb for 6th straight week

The world's number of new COVID-19 cases rose for the sixth week in a row, as vaccine experts continue to weigh reports of rare blood clot conditions in people who have received the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.

Hot spots in multiple regions

In its weekly snapshot of COVID-19 activity, the World Health Organization (WHO) said 4 million new cases were reported last week, with deaths on the rise for the third week in a row.

The five countries reporting the highest case numbers shifted last week, with India reporting the most, followed by Brazil, the United States, Turkey, and France.

The part of the world that felt the biggest case increase was the WHO's South-East Asia region, which includes India, followed by the Western Pacific region, which includes the Philippines, another current COVID-19 hot spot.

Countries reporting some of the steepest illness rises last week include Bangladesh (67%), Argentina (46%), Turkey (43%), Japan (43%), Iran (38%), India (38%), and the Philippines (27%).

In the European region, cases leveled out after rising for 5 consecutive weeks. Africa's cases and deaths declined last week, though new cases rose 10% in Ethiopia compared to the previous week.

Vaccine advisers still weighing AstraZeneca reports

At a WHO briefing today, Rogerio Gaspar, PhD, the group's director of regulation and prequalification, said the WHO is making progress on further assessing the rare blood clot events that may be linked to the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, with updated conclusions due tomorrow or the next day.

So far, there's no clear link, and for now, the benefits still largely outweigh the risks, he said.

Gaspar said the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is also continuing its assessment, as is the United Kingdom's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Today, researchers conducting a trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine in children have paused vaccination while regulators investigate the possible blood clot connection, according to the BBC, which cited Andrew Pollard, MD, with the University of Oxford.

More global headlines

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said today that the global economy is coming out of the worst phase of the pandemic, led by improved prospects in the United States where vaccine rollout is strong. However, it warned that recovery may be slower for some countries, including locations where immunization is lagging.

  • The Rockefeller Foundation today called for a global action plan to ease recovery from the pandemic by ramping up multilateralism and using creative financing tools. It pushed getting vaccination rates up to 70% by the end of 2022, which goals such as using leverage from the IMF and World Bank to ensure equal access to vaccines.

  • Australia and New Zealand have agreed on "travel bubble" to begin on Apr 19, which will allow people to move in and out of the countries without quarantine or testing, according to Reuters.

  • The global total today topped 132 million cases and is at 132,119,304 cases with 2,865,677 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

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