Less than two weeks after recording a moving average of new Covid cases exceeding 1 million for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, the world is approaching the 2 million mark. The emergence of the ômicron variant was a lever for the jump in records, while at the other end, the advance of immunization managed to prevent a similar movement from taking place in the number of deaths.
The average of new daily cases this Friday (7) was 1.96 million, according to a survey by the Our World in Data platform, linked to Oxford University. This is the highest figure since Sars-CoV-2 was identified just over two years ago.
The absolute number of new infections this Friday in the world was 2.52 million – a mark, however, subject to a possible damming of data linked to the holiday season in many countries.
It is to mitigate these factors that the moving average is used, a statistical resource that seeks to provide a more accurate view of the evolution of the disease. The calculation is done by adding the result of the last seven days and dividing the number by seven. On the following day, the most recent information is added and that of the oldest day is excluded for the recalculation of the average.
Records for new infections continue to be set in many places. In France, with 328,214 diagnoses this Friday, the moving average rose to 206,286; in Italy, the index reached 142,005. These are the highest figures in the two countries – which have, respectively, 11.2 million and 6.9 million cases registered since the beginning of the pandemic.
Although the jump in the number of diagnoses worries national authorities and leads governments to resume restrictions that had been lifted, death records from Covid do not show the same growth. According to experts, the effect is ensured, in large part, due to the advance of immunization against Covid.
The moving average of daily deaths in the world reached 5,855 this Friday, according to the Our World in Data platform. A year ago, the number reached over 18,000 and, in May and April of the last year, due to the spread of the delta variant, it was around 15,000 and 16,000.
Studies are still being carried out to understand the characteristics of the omicron and its potential to exacerbate the health crisis. The WHO (World Health Organization), however, already warns that describing the strain as mild is a mistake, citing the lethal power of the virus – preliminary analyzes suggest that it is less likely to cause severe cases of the disease.
Sequenced in November by scientists from South Africa, the omicron is highly contagious and has become the predominant variant in several nations, which are witnessing a new wave of Covid and the consequent saturation of local health systems.
In the United States, for example, the strain is already responsible for more than 95% of new cases, according to data released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The country recorded 662,000 diagnoses this Thursday (6).
The scenario has led governments to create incentives for immunization – the case of Germany, where only those with the booster dose will be exempted from presenting a negative test to attend bars and restaurants. Authorities also had to turn to the Armed Forces to send medical teams to overwhelmed hospitals, such as in the US and UK.
Also in the United Kingdom, one of the first countries to observe the consequences of the onomicron and go backwards in the opening, an unusual movement took place. With medical centers crammed with patients and a shortage of manpower, due to the high number of infected professionals and away, union leaders appealed to the authorities on Friday to postpone the entry into force of the mandatory vaccine for health workers.
According to the government’s determination, they must take the first dose by February 3 if they want to keep their jobs. Trade unionists argue that the measure will lead to an even greater exodus of professionals, aggravating the personnel crisis experienced in the NHS, the country’s public health service.
Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom, director-general of the WHO, spoke again this Thursday (6) of a “tsunami” of new global cases driven by the omicron. He repeated a recurring appeal since the immunization against Covid was developed: that without equity in the distribution of vaccines, it will be impossible to truly control the pandemic.
According to the organization’s calculations based on the current rate of access to the immunizer, 109 countries (out of the 194 that make up the entity) will not meet the goal of vaccinating 70% of their populations by the middle of 2022. It is not the first time that this happens: more than 50 did not reach the previous goal of vaccinating 10% of the inhabitants until September of last year, for example.
The repetition of global inequality in access to immunizers is especially worrisome as the identification and transmission of new variants, such as the Ômicron, give visibility to the scientific argument that, without a majority of the vaccinated population, the disease will continue to spread with high contagion levels.
“A small number of countries will not end the pandemic as long as billions of people remain completely unprotected,” Adhanom said. At least 36 nations have not even achieved 10% vaccine coverage, according to the WHO.
Half of the world’s population has completed the first cycle of immunization against Covid – they took two doses or a single dose of the immunizer -, while 9.17% are only with the first dose.
These figures, however, present considerable variations when the comparison sample is the continents. Leader in immunization, South America has 64% of the population with a complete vaccination schedule, while Africa has only 9.6%, for example. The data is from Our World in Data.