Global COVID-19 cases show substantial drop

For the first time in more than 2 months, weekly global COVID-19 cases dropped substantially, as cases decline in recent hot spots, including India and Japan, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in its latest update.

All of the world's regions saw declines, but nearly 4 million new cases and more than 62,000 deaths were reported. Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, the WHO's technical lead for COVID-19, said on Twitter yesterday that the levels are still far too high, especially when the world has the tools to prevent infections and deaths.

Sharp rises in some countries

The Americas region reported the steepest decline in cases, followed by Southeast Asia and the Middle East. And though deaths dropped overall, the fatality level rose last week in the African region, up 7% over the week before.

The five countries that reported the most cases last week were the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Iran, and Turkey.

Few countries reported sharp increases, except for Nigeria, where illnesses were up 90%, and Ecuador, where cases rose 72% compared with the week before. Cuba and the Philippines reported modest rises, up 22% and 16% respectively.

In the recent hot spots, cases in Japan declined 46% last week, Indonesia's cases fell by 30% and US illnesses fell by 20% last week. The pace of cases in Vietnam was similar to the previous week.

Six more countries reported their first Delta (B1617.2) variant detections, putting the total at 180.

New UK data on waning vaccine protection

Public Health England yesterday published new data on waning vaccine effectiveness in people who have received two COVID-19 vaccine doses. For protection against symptomatic disease, researchers found some waning 10 weeks following the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines, which was most evident in older adults.

Protection against hospitalization waned somewhat 15 weeks after the second dose, especially for the AstraZeneca vaccine and mainly in risk groups. Older people who had a shorter duration of time between the two doses had greater waning compared with those who had longer intervals.

UK vaccine advisors recently recommended booster doses for adults age 50 and older and for those in certain risk groups.

More global headlines

  • In a state of the union address today, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pledged 200 million more vaccine doses for low-income countries by the middle of next year, on top of the 250 million already pledged. She also announced a new agency to prepare for future health threats, backed by an investment of €50 billion ($59 billion US) by 2027. The new group is called the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).

  • China today reported 50 more local COVID-19 cases in Fujian province, part of ongoing outbreaks in three major cities: Putian, Xiamen, and Quanzhou. Given the recent COVID-19 spread, cities in other parts of the country are issuing travel warnings ahead of China's fall holiday season, according to Reuters.

  • The global total today topped 226 million cases and is at 226,173,361, along with 4,655,442 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

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