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With the advancement of vaccination in the world, are COVID-19 cases falling, rising, or stagnating?

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Jiya Saini
Jiya Saini is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. She has been working with us since January 2018. After studying at Jamia Millia University, she is fascinated by smart lifestyle and smart living. She covers technology, games, sports and smart living, as well as good experience in press relations. She is also a freelance trainer for macOS and iOS, and In the past, she has worked with various online news magazines in India and Singapore. Email: jiya (at) revyuh (dot) com

Three months after the start of the global coronavirus vaccination campaign, only a dozen countries managed to vaccinate more than 10% of their population. The impact on infections and deaths seems very clear in some, but not so clear in others

Exceeding the most optimistic forecasts at the beginning of the pandemicmass vaccination against COVID-19 began in the first days of December, less than a year after Chinese scientists disseminated the genome of the virus that emerged at the end of 2019 in the city of Wuhan. After three months of this inoculation campaign that began in the United Kingdom in the West, and which in the East had China and Russia as pioneers, nearly 300 million doses of the different vaccines that are being distributed in the world have already been administered.

Those 300 million represent just over 3 per 100 inhabitants of the planet. Considering that many people have already given the two doses of the vaccination plan envisaged by most laboratories, it is estimated that only 2.2% of the world’s population received at least one dose, according to statistics compiled by the specialized site Our World In Data, from the University of Oxford. With such low coverage, it is still too early to have a full dimension of the impact of mass vaccination on the evolution of infections and COVID-19 deaths.

However, the distribution of vaccines is far from equitable. For this reason, there are some countries in which the inoculation campaigns have advanced so much that some preliminary conclusions can already be drawn.

Seychelles, an archipelago located in the African Indian Ocean, is in the lead: 58.1% of its population have already received one or two injections. It helps to be a country of just 96,000 people. Second is Israel, with 56.7% of its citizens covered. There are 8.7 million, so the challenge was much greater. The third is the United Arab Emirates, with 38.7%, and the fourth the United Kingdom, which has already vaccinated 31.5% of its 66.6 million inhabitants.

The other eight nations in which more than one in ten people received some dose are Maldives (25.3%), Chile (21.1%), Bahrain (18.1%), United States (16.6%), Barbados (16.2%), Serbia (15.1%), Malta (13.4%) and Morocco (10.5%).

Vaccination on the rise, cases on the decline

The best way to visualize the impact of vaccination on the spread of the virus in a country is to see in the same graph the evolution of new daily cases per million inhabitants (the blue dotted lines) and of the total percentage of vaccinated people ( the yellow columns). A quick look at the UK case seems to reveal a direct and almost immediate effect of vaccination.

On January 10, it peaked at 881 new daily infections (seven-day average) per million people. At that time, only 3.37% of the population was vaccinated. But from that day on, the vaccination curve began to rise and infections fall. Almost two months later, with 31.46% coverage, new cases dropped to 94 per million.

The curves are very similar in the United States. On January 11, it registered 754 daily cases with 2.69% of the population inoculated. Then the dotted line and columns started to move closer together until the trend totally reversed. Now, with 16.61% of the inhabitants vaccinated, new infections fell to 184 every 24 hours.

But these two cases at least merit raising the question: is it possible that just 2% or 3% of the population is vaccinated is enough for infections to begin to fall so sharply? Because the epidemic moves in cycles and, during the first wave, both countries registered steep drops in cases without the help of any vaccine.

Looking at the evolution of the variables in Israel, it should be concluded that it is hardly the inoculation that explains the drop in cases in the United Kingdom and the United States. Although, obviously, it can be crucial so that there are no new sprouts.

In Israel, infections continued to rise even when a quarter of the inhabitants had already received at least one dose, reaching a record 996 in one day, on January 17. Only when protection exceeded 40% of the population was there a sustained decline in infections, which, in any case, were not extinguished: they stabilized at around 400 per day since February 21.

Not much different is the pattern in the United Arab Emirates, where cases kept climbing as the country approached 20% coverage. After a peak of 380 cases on January 30, a slight downward trend began to 290 of these days, which coincides with a vaccination level of 38 percent.

In Bahrain, the other country on the Arabian Peninsula that is well advanced in terms of immunization, the decline started earlier, with a protection rate of less than 15 percent. From 466 daily cases on February 17, it went to 366, with 18% of the population covered.

Vaccination and cases on the rise

There are two countries where something counterintuitive is happening right now: As inoculation progresses, infections grow. One is Chile, where new cases went from 175 on February 22, with 15.46% of the population vaccinated, to 213 on March 5, with vaccination of 21.09 percent.

The phenomenon is clearer in Serbia, where 1,070 daily infections were recorded at the beginning of December, which fell to 249 on January 19, when less than 1% of citizens were vaccinated. But as of February 17, with a coverage rate higher than 11%, a rise in cases began to 538 on March 5, with 15% of the population inoculated.

A possible explanation for this apparent contradiction must be sought in Israel, where it took more than 40% of the population to be covered to give way to a decrease in infections. On the other hand, there are vaccines such as Sinovac, which is the one that is being applied the most in Chile, which did not show as much effectiveness in preventing infections but did in preventing hospitalizations.

Inoculation and mortality campaigns

The case of the home in Chile confirms that the truly important thing is not to avoid infections but to make them as harmless as possible, to reduce mortality. And what is seen for now of the partial effect of vaccination is highly positive.

In the UK, daily deaths per million inhabitants fell from 18 at the end of January to 3.89 this week. True, as mentioned before, it is most likely not due to vaccination. But that is why it is important to return to Israel, where the decline was much more pronounced in mortality than in cases. From the peak of 7.49 deaths on January 25, with 31.7% of the population vaccinated, it went to 2.26 on March 5.

On the other hand, neither in Serbia nor in Chile there was an increase in mortality after the increase in cases. It is true that the rise is relatively recent, and may end up moving to deaths in the coming weeks. Whether that happens or not will be an interesting test to further evaluate the impact of vaccination on the pandemic.

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