New Global Covid Cases Drop as India’s Variant Spreads
12 May 2021 · 3rd Party Analysis
- Covid-19 cases recede worldwide, India remains under waves of infections
- The US and Europe continue to vaccinate people, raising prospects for reopening
Global coronavirus cases declined slightly last week, brightening the outlook for recovery and easing restrictions across the US and Europe. Still, India’s Covid-19 variant poses a threat to the global economic and social reopening as the worrying Indian virus is spreading across other countries.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were 5.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the seven days ended May 9. The figures are 4% lower compared with the seven days prior. The alarming issue, however, is that India accounted for half of the recorded infections, or more than 2.7 million cases.
India’s surge in infections has crippled the country’s hospital network as the government is rushing to vaccinate as many people as possible, although vaccine deliveries have declined recently. As the virus is sweeping across the population of 1.3 billion, the disease threatens to further derail the third-largest economy in Asia and to send shockwaves through several important industries, resulting in even worse global shortages.
The World Health Organization has cautioned that there are “worrying trends” seen in neighboring countries. This week, the WHO classified B.1.617, the Indian strain, as a “variant of concern”, indicating that the virus has the “highest public health implications.” The WHO said the variant has been identified in 44 countries.
“B.1.617 sublineages appear to have higher rates of transmission, including observed rapid increases in prevalence in multiple countries,” the World Health Organization said.
Additional Incentives for Vaccination in the US
Meanwhile, daily coronavirus cases in the US fell to 24,080 on May 9, the lowest level in 11 months. The US remains on track to vaccinate as much as 70% of the adult population by July 4. Over the past week, health authorities have been administering an average of 2.2 million doses a day. Vaccinated adults with at least one dose now have reached 58.5%, while the percentage of the total population with at least one jab currently stands at 46.2%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To step up the vaccine rollout and reach as many people as possible, the White House has partnered with Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. The two ride-sharing companies will give free rides to and from vaccination sites until July 4. The campaign to incentivize people to get vaccinated comes amid ample supply but decreased demand for vaccines in recent weeks.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Europe appears to be emerging from the lockdown. France is in its first stage of a four-tiered plan to lift restrictions almost completely before the summer. Germany already introduced certain privileges for vaccinated people, such as gathering in public places. Italy lifted more restrictions across the country, leaving all but three regions under relaxed restrictions in the lower-risk “yellow” zone. Europe is slowly advancing its rate of vaccination, currently standing at 28.1% of the EU population. More than 175 million vaccine doses have been given to Europeans by May 11.