For the fourth week in a row, the number of global new cases reported fell, with 3 million new cases last week – nearly 20% down compared to the previous week. This is the lowest figure seen in the last 15 weeks. Although there are still many countries with increasing numbers of cases, the trend is encouraging. The number of new deaths reported to the WHO also fell for a second week in a row, with 88,000 new deaths reported last week. Europe and the Americas have experienced the greatest drops in absolute numbers of cases, with nearly half a million fewer new cases reported last week than the week before.
In the past week, the five countries reporting the highest number of new cases continue to be the USA (20% decrease), Brazil (10% decrease), France (4% decrease), UK (25% decrease) and Russia (11% decrease).
North and South America
Over 1.5 million new cases and over 45,000 new deaths were reported in the Americas this week, a decrease of 17% in cases and a decrease of 4% in deaths compared to the previous week. The highest numbers of new cases were reported from the USA, Brazil and Mexico. The highest numbers of new deaths were reported from the same countries.
Novel therapeutics – inhaled budesonide
The STOIC study, published this week, found that inhaled budesonide (a medication commonly used to treat asthma) given to patients with COVID-19 within seven days of the onset of symptoms reduced the need for urgent care and hospitalisation. The study also found that budesonide was associated with shorter recovery times. While there have been important breakthroughs in the management of hospitalised COVID-19 patients, the treatment of early disease to prevent clinical deterioration is equally, if not more, important, especially to the billions of people worldwide without easy access to hospital care, who may be waiting some time still for a vaccine. The results of this study suggest that a safe, widely available and well understood medication could have a significant impact, and phase 3 trials are now needed.