May 16, 2021
Here again is the weekly SARS-CoV-2 update.
So far, 163 million official SARS-CoV-2 infections have been recorded, 3,385,000 people have officially died from COVID-19 (The Economist recently wrote of 7-13 million excess deaths). The global trend in cases per day is downward. 1.43 billion doses of vaccine have now been administered.
Promising Trends in Europe
In Europe, there is little to complain about. Actually, cases in all countries – with very few exceptions – are on the way down (or already stable at few cases per day). The exceptions are Greece and Belarus where the downward trend is not yet so clear and Denmark where, surprisingly, the trend is rather upward (but slowly).
Otherwise, I am very satisfied. But Europe has some catching up to do as far as vaccination is concerned – “flotti Karotti” as my little niece always says. We have to use the time to prevent a new flare-up in the fall.
Positive Trend in North America, Strong Fall Wave in Latin America
In North America, the situation looks OK too. Cases in Canada are slowly on the way down (but it could go faster). The U.S. and Mexico are reporting steadily declining infection numbers – so it looks pretty good. The USA are basically opening up again now. In New York City, cases are also going down sharply, we had a new low of 391 cases yesterday (New York City has about the same population as Austria).
South and Central America are unfortunately in the middle of a strong fall wave. I hope that it will soon subside, but at the moment, it’s hardly going down anywhere.
Problems in Asia
Asia is the new problem child.
The situation in India and Nepal is terrible. However, a turning point is visible in India. Malaysia still sees a strong increase in cases. Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam are also seeing increased cases, and in Thailand, it’s a real wave.
Japan is also struggling with increases. Interestingly, Taiwan is now seeing cases as well. They were basically SARS-CoV-2 free for some time but now had a day with almost 200 cases. South Korea is still stable, Indonesia and the Philippines as well. Singapore has cases right now (mostly imported) and is responding quite drastically.
What you have to keep in mind here is that – apart from India, Malaysia, Nepal, etc. – the number of cases in countries like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, or Cambodia is still negligible compared to the size of the population and compared to Europe. They have done something right and we should learn from these countries.
Situation Slowly Improving in the Middle East
The Maghreb and the Middle East look OK, the numbers are stable or are decreasing in most countries. The exceptions are Egypt and Bahrain, where cases seem to be going up. Egypt seems to have quite a problem, I keep hearing that from friends who have family there. Israel is currently averaging about 30 cases per day and the number of COVID-19 deaths per day fluctuates between 0 and 1 on average.
Africa looks stable with some exceptions. In Angola, the case numbers have increased further and in South Africa, there was also a slight increase – which could be the beginning of a fall wave. Good, that they could finally start vaccinating.
Vaccines for Children
So, apart from this global update, there is not much to say. The USA is now vaccinating children 12 years and older with the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine. Pfizer has applied for a “regular” license. As far as variants are concerned, B.1.617 and B.1.1.1 (C.37) are currently those that could become problematic – but the concern is not too big, at least as far as vaccines are concerned.
Since there is not much going on at the moment and I expect the situation to ease further, I will write this newsletter only every two weeks from now on. If the situation changes, I will of course write weekly again.
Go get vaccinated!