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Data: With less than 30% receiving at least one dose, Indonesia & Iran battle a severe wave of COVID-19

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In both Indonesia & Iran, the vaccination rate is less than 30% (the share of population receiving at least one dose) and that meant that the current wave of COVID-19 in these countries is severe with increased cases & deaths unlike in countries like UK. 

In the previous story, we reviewed the trends for the current wave of COVID-19 in a few of the countries where a higher portion of the population is vaccinated with at least one dose. Data clearly indicates that despite the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in countries such as the USA, UK and European countries, the fatality rates are significantly lower compared to the earlier waves. In other words, the trend in these countries indicates a possible correlation between the vaccination rate & reduction in the severity of cases and deaths due to COVID-19. 

On the other hand, there are countries with lower vaccination rates and an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. In this story, we analyse three such countries Indonesia, Iran & Russia to understand if lower vaccination rates are coupled with a higher number of deaths.

As in the case of an earlier story, we have relied on the data available on Ourworldindata.org. We have considered a 10-day average for data related to daily cases & deaths, to average out any outliers. 

In Indonesia, the fatality rate has increased during the recent wave 

The recent third wave in Indonesia is exponentially severe than the earlier waves of COVID-19 in the country.  Data show that the latest wave has just crossed the peak. However, the impact of this wave has been the most devasting since the beginning of the pandemic. 

  • The spread of COVID-19 infection in Indonesia was much later than in many other countries. It was around the end of September 2020, that there was a substantial increase in the country’s COVID-19 numbers. The peak then was only about 4 thousand daily cases with around 110 deaths. 
  • The second wave, which hit the country around early December’2020, peaked during early February 2021 with around 12.5 thousand daily deaths and 290-300 daily deaths. 

Compared to these two, the third wave has been severe. The number of cases started to increase at the beginning of June 2021 and by mid-July, it peaked at more than 45 thousand cases a day. During this period, the number of daily deaths reached a peak of around 1.7 thousand. A general trend observed across various countries is that the fatality rates have decreased over time with the increase in the number of cases. However, in the case of Indonesia, the fatality rate increased during the third wave meaning that the increase in deaths have outpaced the increase in the cases, underlining the severity of the current wave in the country. 

Meanwhile, the proportion of the population that is vaccinated is among the least in the world. The latest numbers indicate that only about 23% of the population has managed to receive at least one dose of vaccine with only 13% of the population fully vaccinated. It is only over the last two months that the vaccination numbers have increased.  

Compared to the West European countries, USA, India, Brazil, etc. Indonesia had less intense initial waves of COVID-19. In hindsight, a proactive approach to vaccinating its population during those times could have helped in controlling the severe current wave. 

In Iran, the fatality rate has reduced despite an increase in the number of deaths 

Outside of China & Western European countries, Iran was among the earliest of the countries affected with COVID-19. At its peak in late March 2020, the number of daily cases was around 3 thousand and the deaths were around 140-150. Since then, Iran has experienced three separate waves of COVID-19 infection, with each severe than the earlier one in terms of the number of daily cases.

  • The second wave which peaked around early December 2020, recorded around 13.5 thousand daily cases with around 400 daily deaths. 
  • During the third wave, which was at its peak during late April-2021, there were around 24 thousand daily cases. Despite an increase in the number of cases than the second wave, the highest number of daily deaths was around about the same with around 400. 
  • This has resulted in the fatality rate coming down to 3% from the earlier 5 % during the initial days of the second wave. 

Recently, Iran experienced a fourth wave of COVID-19 infection with the average number of cases in a day reached a peak at around 40 thousand. The number of daily deaths was around 640. It is early yet to confirm if the country has crossed the peak of the fourth wave. The difference between Iran & Indonesia is that despite an increase in the number of cases, the declining trend in the fatality rate has continued.  The vaccination status does not present an encouraging picture with only around 22% vaccinated with at least a single dose so far. Only around 9% of the population is fully vaccinated. The declining fatality rate could be an aberration because of the very high fatality rate of around 5.5% in Iran, to begin with.

As is the case with Indonesia, it looks like Iran could have prevented deaths if a greater share of the population was vaccinated. 

The number of deaths & fatality rate have increased in Russia during the third wave 

After the USA, India & Brazil, Russia is the fourth most COVID-19 affected country with close to 7 million cases.   Russia experienced the first wave of COVID-19 infection during April-May 2020, with a peak of around 10 thousand daily cases during mid-May 2020. Unlike many other countries which have experienced COVID-19 in early 2020, the number of deaths was lower with only around 150-160 deaths being reported at its peak in June 2020. 

During the second wave that peaked during December 2020, around 27-28 thousand cases were reported daily. During this period, the highest number of deaths averaged around 550 per day. 

Meanwhile, the death rate which was around 1.7% at the beginning of the second wave increased to around 1.8% by the time it subsided. Vaccination was yet to begin in Russia around this time. 

The third wave started around Mid-June 2021 and peaked around Mid-July 2021, with the highest cases being around 24 thousand in a day.  This peak is lower than that of the second wave. 

However, the trend in the number of deaths was the opposite with the daily number reaching 770-780 at its peak. This is considerably higher than that of the second wave. The reduced number of cases and increased deaths have contributed to an increased fatality rate, which is currently around 2.6%. 

Besides Indonesia, Russia is also among the larger countries which has a lesser proportion of its population vaccinated with only around 30% receiving at least one dose. Around a quarter of the population is fully vaccinated. As in the case of Indonesia, there seems to be a correlation between lower vaccination and increased death rates in the recent waves. 

Countries with lower vaccination rates experienced an increase in deaths & fatality rate 

These three countries are the large ones with only around 30% or lower population vaccinated with at least one dose. There are other countries with a lower share of the population vaccinated but are yet to experience a new wave of COVID-19. 

Many countries like Columbia, Argentina, Turkey, etc. that have experienced a third or fourth wave of COVID-19, were able to control the fatality rates. The vaccination rate in these countries is higher than the countries that we have analysed in this story, although they are not at the levels of the USA & other European countries analysed in the previous story. 

The severity of the third wave in Indonesia & Russia is evident with a significant increase in deaths & fatality rates. Although the fatality rate reduced in Iran, the number of deaths was still higher than in the earlier waves. 

The rate of vaccination and its relation to deaths/fatality rates due to COVID-19 is evident from the data of these countries. Countries with a higher vaccination rate have been able to prevent a higher number of deaths while the opposite is true in the case of countries like Indonesia & Iran with less than 30% vaccination rates. 

Featured Image: Current wave of COVID-19

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