The number of global new cases reported has continued to fall, with 2.7 million new cases last week, a 16% decline compared to the previous week. The number of new deaths reported also fell, with 81 000 new deaths reported globally last week, a 10% decline compared to the previous week. Five out of six WHO regions reported a double-digit percentage decline in new cases with Europe and the Americas continuing to see the greatest drops in absolute numbers of cases.
North and South America
Almost a year since Brazil confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in South America the Americas remains the most affected region worldwide, representing 45% of global cumulative cases. Over the coming fortnight the USA is expected to reach almost half a million COVID-19 deaths with Brazil approaching a quarter of a million. Elsewhere in South America it is Peru that has recorded the highest number of excess deaths since the start of the pandemic, with an 89% increase in deaths beyond the number seen over previous years. For comparison, Mexico has seen a 53% increase in excess deaths and the USA 18%. Furthermore, earlier this week it was the reported that life expectancy in the USA fell by a year in the first six months of 2020, highlighting the scale of the epidemic and its effects on the population.
Despite these cumulative data over the past week the Americas have seen a fall in the number of new cases reported. The highest numbers of new cases were reported from the USA (a 23% decrease), Brazil (3% decrease) and Mexico (a 7% decrease). A multitude of epidemiological trends likely underlie these data, including increasing vaccination rates. Over the last week over 1.3 million people have been vaccinated daily in the USA.
Efforts to vaccinate populations continue around the world with a cumulative 202 million doses now administered across 88 countries. In Israel, almost 50% of the population has received at least one dose, compared to 12.8% in the USA and 2.7% in Brazil. Overall, the vast majority of vaccines delivered have been in high-income countries with low and middle-income countries seeing very low vaccination rates.
Recently WHO Director-General Dr Tedros commented on the impact variants may have on the ongoing efforts to control the virus through vaccination, saying the world will “have to be ready to adapt vaccines so they remain effective, as we do with flu vaccines, which are updated twice a year. Manufacturers will have to adjust to the evolution of the virus, taking into account the latest variants for future shots, including boosters.”