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‘End is in sight.’ Most encouraging virus news in a long time

February 19, 2021 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Covid-19 seems to be in retreat worldwide. A startling graph (see below) prepared by experts at the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, shows the number of reported weekly new Covid-19 cases is plummeting globally and has dropped nearly 50% this year – while economist and Covid-19 modeller Rodney Jones yesterday described the speed of the downward trend in US and UK cases as remarkable.

Public health measures – such as lockdowns, physical distancing, mask-wearing and increased hand hygiene  – are likely to be driving the global downward trend. Vaccines haven’t had enough time to have had much effect yet.

Countries like Israel and the UK have already vaccinated huge swathes of their population, but it’s too early to see the effect of the vaccine rollout in widespread reduction of infection.

Here’s the graph, showing daily new confirmed Covid-19 cases throughout the world:

The vaccine rollout is still essential. It represents “a tremendous achievement and we will start to see the benefits in the coming months” says Adam Kamradt-Scott, an associate professor at the University of Sydney. Kamradt-Scott warns that letting our guard down now, when new variants are emerging, could easily reverse the trend. For Kamradt-Scott’s article in The Conversation, see here.

MEANWHILE, strict lockdown measures in the UK and changing behaviour in the US are slowing the spread of Covid-19.

In the UK this week, new daily cases dropped below 10,000 for the first time since October. In the US last Friday, the average number of daily new cases fell below 100,000, also for the first time in months.

Economist and Covid-19 modeller Rodney Jones, who has been scrutinising international trends on the spread of the coronavirus, said the speed of the decline in US and UK cases was remarkable.

“In early January, all the curves looked firmly exponential,” he told Morning Report, a morning news program broadcast by Radio New Zealand (RNZ).

“An end is in sight I think, because what would happen normally is you have a lockdown, you contain the virus, but then you open up again and we’ve got another wave,” Jones said yesterday.

“But those waves take three-four months to build, by then we’re going to have the vaccines being deployed into that potentially new wave.” To hear more from Rodney Jones, try RNZ here.

The vaccines are rolling out fast. Israel, the world leader in vaccine rollout, has now vaccinated 78% of its population. The UAE is second, with 53% vaccinated. The UK is third, with 24% vaccinated – leaving the floundering European Union in its wake. (The EU has vaccinated only about 5% of its residents so far.) The US has vaccinated 17% of its population. Australia and New Zealand (which have kept Covid-19 under control brilliantly, so far) are starting their vaccination programs now.

Written by Peter Needham

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