COVID-19 infections rose 8% last week to more than 3.8 million, the World Health Organization reported on Wednesday.

First published in July 2021.

Latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed a “substantial” uptick in the Americas and the Western Pacific, which jumped 30% and 25%, respectively.

This contributed to a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus deaths overall, which climbed by 21% compared with last week, to more than 69,000.

If these trends continue, the WHO noted that the cumulative number of cases reported globally could exceed 200 million in the next two weeks.

Regional overview

Regionally, South-East Asia also reported an increase in new infections, albeit at a much lower rate of 3%, compared to the previous seven days.

The number of new deaths increased in all regions apart from Europe, where fatalities were similar to the previous week.

The WHO said that over the seven days, the highest number of new cases was reported in the United States, which saw more than half a million new infections, representing a skyrocketing 131% increase.

This was followed by:

  • Brazil – 324,334 new cases;
  • Indonesia – 289,029 new cases;
  • United Kingdom – 282,920 new cases;
  • India – 265,836 new cases.

The global total of 194,608,040 confirmed COVID-19 includes 4.1 million deaths.

As of Monday, almost 3.7 billion vaccine doses have been administered.

Variants update

Of the four COVID-19 mutations that the WHO has designated “variants of concern”, the UN agency said that:

  • Alpha variant is present in 182 countries;
  • Beta is in 131 countries;
  • Gamma is in 81 countries;
  • Delta is now in 132 countries (it was only 8 countries in the past week).

On the issue of vaccine effectiveness against the coronavirus, the WHO cited several laboratory studies showing that transmission to household members were reduced by approximately half when the infected person was vaccinated with at least one dose, compared to someone who hadn’t had any jab.

The UN agency added that the risk of transmission fell further, 7 to 14 days after people had been given two vaccines.

The majority of the 90 studies on vaccine efficacy carried out to date have come from just three countries that have introduced early vaccination campaigns: Israel, the UK and the United States.

Vaccine efficacy

Addressing the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against the four variants of concern, the WHO referred to studies that had shown “a several-fold reduction in neutralization.

“Overall, vaccine efficacy against severe disease, hospitalization and death has been higher than against non-severe symptomatic disease, with vaccine efficacy estimates for these more serious outcomes to be above 80% for AstraZeneca-Vaxzevria, Moderna-mRNA-1273, Pfizer BioNTechComirnaty, and Sinovac-CoronaVac.” 


PMP News reporting.


[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 29 July 2021. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Flickr/UN Women/Ploy Phutpheng. - COVID Relief Bangkok. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)

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