TOPLINE: The number of new Covid-19 cases around the world fell for the fifth consecutive week last week, the World Health Organization said, dropping 16% to 2.7 million new cases, though infectious new variants of the virus continue to spread to new regions of the world.
- In the space of five weeks, the number of new Covid-19 cases reported around the world has almost halved, the WHO said in its weekly epidemiological report Tuesday.
- Of the six regions the WHO divides the world into, only one, the Eastern Mediterranean, reported a (7%) rise in cases last week, with all others reporting double digit declines.
- The number of new deaths reported around the world also fell 10% from last week to 81,000, the WHO said, which used figures up to Sunday.
- WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday the global progress “shows that simple public health measures work, even in the presence of variants.”
- “What matters now is how we respond to this trend,” he said, stressing that the “fire is not out… (and that) if we stop fighting it on any front, it will come roaring back.”
- The agency is still monitoring the spread of numerous Covid-19 variants—including those first identified in South Africa, the U.K. and Brazil—which have each spread to new countries.
By a substantial margin, the United States recorded the highest number of new cases (673,670) and deaths (21,412) from the virus last week, although these figures were down 23% and 5% from the previous week respectively.
Many countries around the world are starting to ramp up vaccination drives, with Israel and the United Arab Emirates having inoculated a significant portion of the population. There are fears that poorer countries will be left without supplies as the rich hoard them—something Tedros has termed vaccine nationalism—though the WHO’s recent approval of AstraZeneca’s shot, a much cheaper and more easily transported product, is cause for optimism.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The WHO is keeping an eye on new variants of the novel coronavirus, though warned that approximately 70% of its genomic sequences come from just three countries (U.S., U.K. and Denmark).
By Robert Hart,Forbes Staff