May 30, 2021
Here again is the now bi-weekly COVID-19 update.
Up until now, 170 million official SARS-CoV-2 infections have been detected, 3,550,000 people have officially died from COVID-19 – but probably the number of unreported cases for both numbers is much higher (estimates based on excess mortality indicate that about 7-14 million people have died from COVID-19 worldwide). Globally, daily infection rates are declining. 1.84 billion doses of vaccine have been administered to date.
Cases Going Down in Europe
Across Europe, with few exceptions, cases are going down and it looks very good. The exceptions are Spain (slight increase), the UK (slight increase due to B.1.617), the Netherlands and Greece (still quite high), and Denmark (linear increase, probably due to the opening policy). In general, however, the trend is very positive.
Sharp Downward Trend in the U.S., High Cases in Latin America
In the U.S., caseloads continue to go down sharply (the 7-day average is now lower than it has been since April 2020), and in Canada now too. Mexico is seeing a very slight increase but currently has low case rates. Central and South America, unfortunately, continue to struggle with increases in cases per day – the situation doesn’t look good right now. Unfortunately, most of them were caught unvaccinated by the winter season.
Mixed Situation in Asia
In Asia, the situation is mixed. India is slowly improving, the number of cases is going down. Nepal seems to be over the hill. Unfortunately, cases in Malaysia are still going up rapidly. In Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan, the number of cases is also increasing. I still hope that Taiwan can stop the current outbreak.
South Korea is stable (at a low level), the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia also (although there was an increase in the Philippines in the last few days – we have to wait and see how this develops). Case numbers in Japan are going down.
Challenges in the Middle East & Africa
The Middle East and Maghreb look OK, though Egypt has very high case rates and there are increases in the Emirates, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. Israel is now averaging 21 cases per day (about the same population as Austria, 58% vaccination coverage).
South Africa is currently experiencing higher increases – probably because it is winter there. The vaccination coverage is unfortunately low in South Africa. South Africa shows what could happen in Europe in autumn if too few vaccines are administered. Zambia, Namibia, Uganda, and Angola are also seeing increases. I hope this is not the beginning of a bigger wave in Africa.
Vaccine & Variant News
There is also some news on vaccines: From Qatar, we now have good numbers on the B.1.351 variant. The protection of the Biontech-Pfizer vaccine against this variant seems to be 75%, which is very good. Figures from the UK also show that AstraZeneca (60%) and Pfizer (88%) protect well against the B.1.617 variant from India. As you may have heard, the Pfizer vaccine is now approved starting from age12, Moderna’s vaccine will probably be the next to have the age lowered.
There is also news on the variants. B.1.617 (first discovered in India) seems to be quite infectious and is responsible for the current increase in cases in the UK. However, the vaccines protect against it. An interesting new variant has also emerged in France, but does not seem to be spreading very quickly. And then a new, apparently more infectious variant has been discovered in Vietnam – I’ll keep you posted on that. But there are also variants disappearing (B.1.427/429, B.1.526 etc. B.1.351 also seems to be on the decline).
There seems to be enough vaccine available in Austria and Europe now.