New cases and deaths rising again globally

Ever since the new daily cases globally touched a new peak of over 0.9 million on April 28, the daily recorded cases have been steadily dropping before rising again from the fourth week of June. The highly transmissive Delta variant has been driving the cases in most countries. Brazil, India, Indonesia, the U.K and Colombia have reported the most cases in the past week.

Ever since the new daily cases globally touched a new peak of over 0.9 million on April 28, the daily recorded cases have been steadily dropping.

It reached the low point on June 21 when only over 0.3 million cases were reported. But there has been an ever-increasing rise in cases globally since then. July 15 recorded 0.53 million daily cases and the second week of July witnessed nearly three million new cases globally.

Totally, 188.9 million cases have been reported from across the world as on July 15. The highly transmissive Delta variant has been driving the cases in most countries. The Delta variant was identified in 15 more countries in the second week of July, taking the total number countries where the variant has been found to 111.

Brazil, India, Indonesia, the U.K and Colombia have reported the most cases in the past week, while the sharpest increase in cases being in Zimbabwe (72%), Indonesia (44%), the U.S. (38%), Bangladesh (35%), and the U.K (30%). Many countries in Asia, including Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, where the virus spread was much under control, have been reporting a record high number of daily cases.

New cases been surging in Indonesia, with each passing day witnessing a sharp increase over the previous day. With over 56,757 cases on July 15, Indonesia has now become the new epicentre of the pandemic in Asia; India reported over 39,000 cases on July 15.

According to the WHO, COVID-19 deaths are increasing again after falling for nine straight weeks, with the sharpest upticks seen in Africa and Southeast Asia. On July 7, the total number of global COVID-19 deaths crossed four million. It took just about 90 days for the last million deaths to occur, the shortest time span for every one million deaths recorded.

The U.S. and much of Europe have demonstrated how high vaccination coverage can sharply reduce the number of deaths and even hospitalisation. For instance, with over 87% of the adult population vaccinated with one dose and over 67% with two doses in the U.K., there have been fewer hospitalisations and deaths despite spikes in cases.

Similarly, in the U.S., large increase in cases has been recorded mainly in States with low vaccination coverage and deaths in these States are seen mainly in the unvaccinated. Over 55% of the U.S. population is vaccinated with one dose and 48% fully vaccinated. This brings the focus back on increasing vaccination coverage and the importance of striving for vaccine equity globally to prevent deaths and the emergence of new, deadlier variants.

Ironically, the discussion in some countries is on booster dose even while health-care worker in many African countries have not been fully vaccinated. Israel, for instance, has begun giving booster shots to people with compromised immune system, while the U.S. has ruled out booster shot for now.

With several States in India reporting vaccine shortage, strict adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour even by the fully vaccinated is the only way to delay and reduce the impact of a third wave.

Published in The Hindu on July 17, 2021