In the last few months, there has been an increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the USA, Western European countries triggering new waves. However, despite an increase in the number of cases, the number of deaths has been significantly lower in all these countries with high COVID-19 vaccine coverage.
On 21 October 2021, India crossed an important milestone of administering 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses. As of 03 November 2021, 1.07 billion doses were administered in India. Data as per the COWIN dashboard indicates that around 73.79 crore persons received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and around 33.54 crores have received both doses. This implies that around 24% of the Indian Population is fully vaccinated while 36% of the adult population is fully vaccinated.
While India is next only to China in terms of the quantum of vaccine doses administered, the coverage in terms of the share of the population vaccinated is lower than in a few other countries. In the first story of this two-part series, we look at the trends of vaccination in a few select countries which have higher vaccination rates. The data is sourced from the information available on OurWorldinData.org, which has collated information from official and reliable sources of respective countries. The data is as of 31 October 2021.
Nearly 58% of the US population is fully vaccinated
The USA has the highest population in the world after China & India. Even in terms of the total number of COVID-19 vaccines doses administered, it ranks after these two countries. By the end of October 2021, a total of 42.2 crore vaccine doses were administered in the country. Out of its total population, 66.5% i.e., around 22.15 crores have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Around 19.24 crore population i.e., around 57% of the population have received both doses and are fully vaccinated. Since May’2021, citizens above 12 years of age are eligible for the vaccine in the USA.
USA has also allowed for booster shots of COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech) since September’2021. As per the available information, around 1.86 crore doses of booster doses are also administered in the USA. The 10-day average suggests that the USA is administering around 9-10 lakh vaccine doses a day. The number of doses administered in a day has increased over the period.
On the other hand, the trends over the past one & half months show a decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases being reported in the country. Currently, around 60-70 thousand new COVID-19 cases are being reported per day (10-day average). The peak prior to this decline was around 1.7 lakh cases a day. This is part of a distinct 5th wave in the USA. The greatest daily peak was observed during the 3rd wave, around the beginning of 2021, with 2.5 – 3 lakh cases a day. The USA had vaccinated only about 2% of its population by then. The fifth wave followed a period of fall in the number of vaccines doses administered. Overall, it can be concluded that the vaccination has prevented the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic as witnessed during the previous waves. As per a few reports, the 4th & 5th wave of COVID-19 in the USA is less fatal, with most of the reported cases being of those who did not take the vaccine. In the third wave during the beginning of 2021, the daily death toll peaked at around 4.5 thousand. The peak during the 5th wave was around 2 to 2.5 thousand.
Negligible difference between population receiving single-dose and those fully vaccinated in developed countries
Western European countries, especially Italy, France, Spain, etc. were among the first that were severely impacted by COVID-19, outside of China. The fatality rates during the first wave were very high in these countries, which has eventually reduced in the waves that followed. The vaccination rates in these countries are higher than in most of the other countries in the world. However, the population of these countries is not as high as China, India & USA. Even in the case of developed Asian countries like South Korea and Japan, the vaccination rates are higher.
Data indicates a significant trend in these countries which is that there is a negligible difference in the share of the population that received only one dose of the vaccine and the share of the population that is fully vaccinated.
Higher vaccination rates in Western European countries helped reduce fatalities
There has been a recurrence of new COVID-19 waves in a few of the Western European countries despite high vaccination coverage. In countries like Spain, the number of new COVID-19 cases has also been higher than earlier. But the high vaccination rates in these countries have ensured that the fatalities are minimum. Data suggests that fatalities have reduced significantly in these countries. Here is a snapshot of a few of the Western European countries:
UK has the fourth-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world and has the highest in Europe. Currently, the country is going through the last stages of a distinct 5th wave. The greatest peak in terms of the number of new cases was during early January-2021, which was the third wave in the UK with around 60 thousand cases a day at its peak. Around that time, only about 5% of the population received a single dose of vaccination. By July 2021, the country started witnessing an increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases even though 50% of the population was already vaccinated.
New variants and mutations of COVID-19 are cited as reasons for the increase in the number of cases. By end of October 2021, around 73% of the population in the UK received at least one dose, while 67% of the population has been fully vaccinated. Around 11.6% of the population received a booster dose in the UK.
However, despite the increase in new COVID-19 cases, the vaccine has been effective in significantly reducing fatalities. During the peak of the third wave, there were more than 1.5 thousand daily deaths. In the recent COVID-19 waves, the number of daily deaths even at its peak was only around 180- 200.
The number of deaths during the first wave in France was around 1.5-1.7 thousand a day at its peak. During the second wave, the deaths were around 800 per day at their peak. Since the peak of the second wave during November 2020, the number of cases has come down gradually in France.
An increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases was recently observed starting August 2021 with a peak of around 30 thousand cases a day and deaths of 140-150 a day. The vaccination in France began after the second wave and by August 2021 i.e., by the time of the latest wave, around 66% of the population was vaccinated with at least one dose and half the population was fully vaccinated. By the end of October 2021, around 68% of the population is fully vaccinated.
As in the case of the UK, despite new waves resulting in the increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases, the number of deaths has reduced significantly.
This trend was also observed in other Western European countries that too reported high vaccination coverage.
In Germany, the number of deaths in the recent wave was around 100 a day compared to around 1.2 thousand daily deaths during the peak of the second wave prior to large-scale vaccination in the country. Around 66% of the population is fully vaccinated so far in Germany.
The recent wave in Italy resulted in substantially lower numbers than during the 2nd & 3rd waves, with much lower fatalities (50 deaths a day on average). Spain, which has fully vaccinated nearly 80% of its population has witnessed very few deaths even during the surge in the 5th wave between July-August of 2021. By that time, around 40% of the population was already fully vaccinated with 55% receiving at least one dose.
Trends highlight the positive impact of vaccination
As the data indicates, most of the countries which reported high vaccination coverage were better equipped in dealing with newer waves of COVID-19, with reduced hospitalizations & deaths despite an increase in the number of new cases. In almost all these countries with high vaccination coverage, the number of deaths has significantly reduced.
Apart from the high proportion of the vaccinated population, another significant aspect is the negligible difference between the population who received at least one dose and those that are fully vaccinated unlike in India where there is a significant difference.
In the next story, we would explore the trends in a few other countries in Latin America, Africa & Asia.