Number Theory: Global Covid-19 deaths soar past four million
- The top five countries by total number of deaths – the United States, Brazil, India, Russia and Mexico – together have been responsible for nearly 50% of all deaths in the world
Coronavirus-related deaths worldwide passed a grim milestone of 4 million on Thursday, according to a tally maintained by Reuters, even as many countries across the globe struggle to procure enough vaccines to inoculate their populations. While it took over a year for the Covid-19 death toll to hit 2 million from the day the first ever person died from the disease on January 11, 2020, in Wuhan, China, the subsequent 2 million deaths were recorded in just 166 days.
1. Daily global deaths still high, but starting to drop
The world’s first death from the coronavirus disease was reported on January 11, 2020, in Wuhan when the Chinese state media said that a man died from a “virus-borne illness, which had infected dozens of people”.
By March 2020, daily deaths started soaring across Europe and the United States, before settling into an eight-month plateau of around 5,000-6,000 daily deaths. But by early November, the brutal third wave of infections was ravaging through the United States (the world’s worst-hit nation) sending the global daily death rate to an all-time high of nearly 15,000 fatalities a day. The number of new deaths have started showing early signs of abating. On average, 8,446 people have lost their lives to Covid-19 across the world every day in the past week. While this number remains high, it has dropped steadily over the past month-and-a-half. Currently, the average rate of deaths in the world is the lowest since early November 2020, according to data maintained by Worldometers.info.
2. Uneven distribution of deaths creating Covid hot zones
The top five countries by total number of deaths – the United States, Brazil, India, Russia and Mexico – together have been responsible for nearly 50% of all deaths in the world. Meanwhile, Peru (5,679 deaths per million residents), Hungary (3,108 deaths per million), Bosnia (2,952 deaths per million), the Czech Republic (2,822 deaths per million) and Gibraltar (2,791 deaths per million) have seen the highest death rates when adjusted for population. A total of 275 people have lost their lives per million residents in India. At the other end of the spectrum are China (3 deaths per million residents), New Zealand (5 deaths per million) and Singapore (6 deaths per million) , which are among the regions that have seen the fewest fatalities with respect to their population.
Peru and Mexico are the countries with the worst case fatality rates – the proportion of confirmed cases that result in deaths – with a CFR of 9.4%. This is not surprising as countries in Latin America are facing their worst outbreak since March, with 43 of every 100 infections in the world being reported in the region, according to a Reuters analysis. The top nine countries reporting the most deaths per capita over the last week were all in Latin America.
India has performed the best in terms of CFR among the 10 nations that have seen the most deaths. To be sure, there have been a spate of reports over the past fortnight, all based on official data, showing that the actual deaths in some states are far higher than reported.
3. Fatalities dropping in regions with high vaccination rates
A closer look at the regional breakup of daily deaths, however, provides some much-needed good news, especially when seen alongside vaccination figures.
This trend is most clearly visible in numbers from North America, where the seven-day average of daily deaths is currently the lowest since early April 2020. On average, 616 people have died every day on the continent in the past week – a drop of nearly 88% from the peak there. North America, unsurprisingly, is also the region with the highest vaccination rate in the world – more than 40% of all North Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Similarly, daily deaths in Europe (where over 37% of residents have received at least one shot) have dropped 84% from peak levels. But Asia and South America reported 4,094 and 3,836 daily deaths in the past week respectively – together responsible for nearly nine out of every 10 fatalities in the world in the past seven days. Around 21% of Asia’s population has been inoculated with a single dose of the vaccine, while this number is 24% for South America, according to Our World in Data. The correlation is too stark to miss. Take the jab.