COVID-19 update

This item appears on page 5 of the September 2021 issue.

At press time, active COVID-19 infections had been confirmed in 192 countries and territories, with more than 198.5 million cases and, resulting from those, more than 4.2 million deaths.

The Delta variant of COVID-19, which is more infectious than other variants, is becoming the dominant variant around the world. Almost every country saw a significant spike in new cases in July. The daily average of new cases over a 2-week period rose more than 100% in most of Europe, Africa and the Americas. However, in countries with robust vaccine programs, the 2-week daily averages of new hospitalizations and deaths rose at much smaller rates, usually less than 50%.

Most vaccines used around the world, including the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines approved in the US, have shown significant protection against severe symptoms from the Delta variant. Though the Delta variant has caused breakthrough infections in vaccinated people at a higher rate than other variants, that number still amounts to less than 1% of all vaccinated people. Worldwide, almost all hospitalizations and deaths since June 1 have occurred among non-vaccinated people.