Analysis – Keith Rankin.
It is not poor countries with poor access to vaccines that are getting the most new cases. But there are a number of very small countries in the Caribbean Sea and the Indian Ocean which are or were European colonial dependencies, and are very exposed to European covid spreaders. San Marino and Andorra still feature, as they did throughout 2020. While both are now close to having herd immunity status, and not because of the vaccine, they are still getting lots of new cases.
When we remove the little countries, we see a chart dominated by Europe. There is a major new outbreak in Czechia, which should probably be regarded today as part of Western Europe.
We must note the strong showing – in all the wrong ways – of Israel. Israel was supposed to be the poster child of the vaccination program. What we are probably seeing there is complacency re all the other behaviours known to restrict the spread of Covid19. We should also note that the chart also includes three of Israel’s close neighbours – including Palestine – and three other Middle Eastern countries.
Seventeen of the countries shown in this chart are European Union (EU) members. The chart also includes four non‑EU European countries. France is one major EU country that appears to be embarking on a new wave of infection. (We note, in the news, the concerning incidence of Covid19 in the French rugby team.) Sweden is another. While the European Union may have been slower than necessary to start its vaccination program, the ongoing new infection rate there is a matter of deep concern. So is the ongoing presence of the USA in this chart.
(In New Zealand we are very fearful of infectious diseases, but not at all fearful of private debt. The mercantilist countries of Europe are the opposite, complacent about infectious diseases but very fearful of private debt!)
Little Gibraltar – part of the United Kingdom, and presumably now facing border issues with the European Union much as Northern Ireland does – now has the highest incidence of Covid19 of all countries in the world. 0.27% of Gibraltans have died of Covid19; which translates to a 54 percent infection rate, on the assumption that the case fatality rate of Covid19 is 0.5%.
The United Kingdom still has very high per capita death rates – though well below its January peak. Based on the European and Israeli evidence, I would be inclined to believe that the fall off of new cases in the United Kingdom is due more to its harsh (by European standards) lockdown, than to its advanced vaccination programme; though undoubtedly the vaccinations are having some effect in bringing the death rate down.
Fifteen of the countries in this chart are in Eastern Europe (counting Czechia as eastern). Many of the others are in Western Europe, including Germany which has had stubbornly high covid death rates this time around.
The only African country in any of these four charts is in this last chart; that’s Botswana, a comparatively prosperous country. South Africa does not show in these charts, despite the publicity given to the ‘South African variant’ of SARS‑Cov2. I am not sure that we can yet attribute South Africa’s apparent success to the vaccinations. Indeed South Africa partially suspended its vaccine programme due to concerns that one of the vaccines was not very effective re the South African variant.