3.7 million new cases were reported last week globally, representing a nearly 15% decline compared to the previous week, and the third consecutive decline in as many weeks. The decline is likely to be a consequence of increasingly strict public health measures introduced after the Christmas period in response to the emergence of new, more transmissible variants.
There were nearly 100,000 new deaths last week, representing a 1% decline compared to the previous week.
In total, there have now been over 102 million cases and over 2 million deaths since the pandemic started over one year ago.
In the past week, the five countries reporting the highest number of new cases continue to be the USA, Brazil, UK, France, and Russia.
Vaccines and special populations
The vaccines that are now available have not been tested on children. This is for the simple reason that clinical trials in children are more complex and because we know that the likelihood of children falling severely ill if they develop COVID is low. In the US, however, there is growing impetus to vaccinate children in the hope that doing so will significantly reduce community transmission of the virus. Data are now being gathered from manufacturers and trials in children continue.
2) Pregnant women
The vaccines that are now available have not been tested on pregnant women,. This is because of the issues associated with enrolling pregnant women into clinical trials. It is known that COVID-19 is more dangerous in pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, and the vaccines have shown themselves to be effective in preventing COVID-19 infection,. As such, there would be significant benefit in pregnant women receiving the vaccines if we knew that the vaccines did not cause specific problems such as increased risk of miscarriage or problems with the baby’s development. It is likely that we will not know the answers to these questions for a long time, if ever, and as such some pregnant women may decide to be vaccinated to derive the known benefit from the vaccines, accepting the potential unquantifiable risk.
3) Previously infected with SARS-CoV-2
It is thought that natural immunity to the virus wanes over time. As such, individuals who previously had the disease may be re- infected in future and become unwell. There is no additional risk in being vaccinated as long as 28 days have elapsed since the positive PCR test or since symptoms ended. There have been reports of individuals who have previously tested positive receiving more severe side effects after the first dose of vaccine e.g. aches and fevers. This is as would be expected.