Last week, the world recorded a 17% decline in COVID-19 cases and a 10% decline in the number of deaths.
On Tuesday, 16th February, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its weekly epidemiological update. According to the update, countries across the world reported a total of 3.1 million coronavirus cases last week. A tally which is a 17% decline from the previous week. This is also the lowest number of coronavirus cases recorded since October of last year. Moreover, along with the decline in COVID-19 cases, there was a 10% drop in the number of new deaths.
WHO collected data from across all 6 of its regions; Africa, the Americas, Europe, Southeast Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Western Pacific. Eastern Mediterranean recorded the lowest drop, only 2%, whereas Africa recorded the greatest decline. Although the United States, UK, Russian, Brazil, and France reported the highest number of new cases, it was still lower than the previous week. Thus, offering hope that the pandemic might be nearing its end.
However, despite the encouraging news, researchers believe WHO’s update failed to account for a very important factor – the coronavirus variants.
A Missing Factor
While some researchers blame the decline in cases on mass vaccination campaigns, the truth is that around 130 countries are yet to begin administering vaccines. Moreover, the WHO data only shows the trajectory of cases from the original coronavirus. And fails to differentiate them from those caused by the new variants. So, while the original strain might near its end soon, the deadly and transmissible variants might stay for a while. Therefore, researchers suggest not to rely on these figures until there is information on the trajectory of the variants.
On Monday, 15th Feb, WHO approved AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. This will allow low- and middle-income countries to gain access to the vaccine. Thus, allowing for a greater control over the pandemic.
World Health Organization