The Covid-19 pandemic has already been over for a year and vaccines are available, but the acceleration of the disease is still high in much of the planet: 60.2% of the population lives in countries with high rates of rapid or stable growth at high levels.
According to a survey conducted by Folha based on data from Johns Hopkins University, there are nations on every continent in these acute stages of the pandemic.
Asia and Europe are the areas currently facing the worst situations, both with more than 55% of the population in countries with accelerated levels or stabilized at high levels of new cases.
To rank countries, Folha’s Covid-19 acceleration monitor methodology was used, developed by USP researchers, which takes into account the number of new cases in the past 30 days, giving more weight in the most recent period.
According to this criterion, 41.5% of people live in countries in an accelerated phase, that is, with an acute growth of new cases. At this level, for example, are India, Bangladesh, Germany, France and Argentina.
These five countries have recently adopted additional measures to restrict the movement of people.
The number of people in countries classified as at an accelerated stage of contamination in the world today is three times higher than that recorded six weeks ago.
Today, an additional 18.7% of the population is located in places at the so-called stable level (growth stabilized, but at a high level). This is the case with Brazil, which is no longer experiencing strong growth in new cases, but which has parked at a moving average of around 63,000 per day, one of the highest in the world. In terms of new deaths, it is the country with the most deaths.
The proportion of the world’s population at this stable stage is similar to that seen six weeks ago (21% at the time).
Only 35.8% of the population is today in places classified as decelerated (with a drop in the rate of new cases over a long period). These are the cases of the United States, Spain and Mexico – even so, epidemiologists are concerned about the possibility of further outbreaks in these countries.
A month and a half ago, it was 70% at this milder stage of the pandemic. The data considers update to last Thursday (8) from Johns Hopkins University. Another 4% of the population is at the initial stage considered (with few cases).
An aggravating factor for mainland Europe, even with some of the world’s largest GDPs, is that the region has not been able to advance vaccination like the UK or the US (in part because ‘they weren’t as aggressive as these two countries in negotiations with drug companies.).
While the British and Americans already hold 47% and 33% of the total population with at least one dose, the French and Germans are only 14%. Brazil is at 9% – data compiled Friday (9) by the Our World in Data group, linked to the University of Oxford.
Europe is also suffering from the rapid spread of the variant that appeared in England, which is more contagious than at the first stage of the pandemic.
Officials from the WHO (World Health Organization) have warned of the worsening global situation. At a press conference last Tuesday (6), epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, who heads the organization’s technical team, stressed that there has been a growth in new cases around the world over the years. last six weeks, after a period of decline.
She cited the situation in large countries, Europe (such as France, Turkey, Italy and Ukraine), the Americas (Brazil, Canada, Colombia and the United States) and Southeast Asia. as of concern.
Among the explanations cited by experts as being the cause of this overall increase, we find the appearance of different variants, which accelerate the spread of the disease.
B.1.1.7 (originally recorded in the UK, already widely distributed in the US) may be between 43% and 90% more transmissible, scientific studies point out.
B.1.351 (from South Africa) has up to 1.5 times the transmission potential and is not stopped by antibodies which help control the original form of the virus, demonstrating that a previous infection is not not prevent reinfection.
P.1, or Manaus variant, also has greater transmissibility (between 2.2 and 6 times more). In addition to having spread throughout Brazil, it is widely present in the countries of South America.
In addition to the variants, the experts also point out as the cause of the increase in infections the relaxation of social distancing measures, officially applied in recent months by governments or in practice, due to the fatigue of the population.
This weakening is seen as worrying even in places where vaccination is progressing strongly, because there are fears that restrictive measures lose their force more quickly than the effect of the vaccines can be satisfactory.
In the United States, for example, even with one of the most advanced immunizations in the world, the number of new cases has increased in some places, such as Michigan. States have removed the mask requirement and liberalized trade.
“It’s too early to declare victory [contra o vírus nos EUA]”Anthony Faucci, the top US official in the fight against the novel coronavirus, said last week. “We need to continue with the protective measures for longer.”
“We are called a ‘broken record’, but we will have to say the same thing again: the vaccine is only an answer,” said Van Kerkhove, of the WHO.
“Vaccination is not a good answer for acute situations,” said her colleague Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant Director-General. “Vaccination takes time to immunize people.”
They cite social distancing, hand hygiene, the use of masks, and intensive surveillance of those infected and those who have been in contact with them as long-needed measures (to quarantine this circle).
In an interview with British newspaper The Guardian, another WHO official expressed concern about the situation in the UK, even though the country has one of the world’s highest vaccination levels and cases of deceleration.
That’s because the UK started easing restrictive measures from its third lockdown. On Monday (12), non-essential shops, gymnasiums and outdoor pubs can reopen.
Catherine Smallwood, head of the WHO in Europe, believes the drop in cases among the British is linked more to the lockdown than to vaccination. And the current level of infections may still be enough to trigger a new outbreak.
How the monitor works
Folha’s monitor is based on a statistical model developed by Renato Vicente, professor at the Institute of Mathematics at USP and member of the Covid Radar collective, and by Rodrigo Veiga, doctoral student in physics at USP.
The situation at each assessed location receives a score. There are five possibilities: initial, accelerated, stable, decelerated and reduced.
The initial phase is when the first patients appear. Brazil no longer has a city of more than 100,000 inhabitants in this situation.
The accelerated phase is one in which there is a rapid increase in the number of new cases. In stable, there is still a significant number of infected people, but the number of new cases is constant.
When the number of new cases decreases dramatically over time, there is the deceleration phase. At the reduced stage, there are few (or none) new cases, given the history of the outbreak there.