Analysis by Keith Rankin.
Italy and Spain were the first major European entry points for Covid19. The pandemic appears to have spread to the rest of the Europe mainly from Italy, and to the rest of the world from Europe. Most of the world’s first dramatic news pictures of hospital wards and burial caskets came from Italy. Italy’s first wave peaked a year ago.
Over the last five months, Italy’s reported cases have been continuously higher than during its first peak. And, while Covid19 daily deaths never quite reached the peak toll of late March 2020, they have been at that peak order of magnitude on a sustained basis for the last 4½ months. Further, both infection rates and death rates have been rising in Italy this March.
Italy has been a magnitude five covid country since October (as well as in March 2020). Case estimates, based on subsequent death rates, suggest that, so far, over thirty percent of Italians have experienced Covid19. (This is not the highest in Europe. Total infections in the United Kingdom are closer to 35%, and in Belgium its 40%. In Czechia – the Czech Republic – it’s more like 45%. In Gibraltar it’s an estimated 55% infection rate, after having had the first of its 94 deaths on 11 November.)
This new wave is by no means confined to Italy. Paris is moving into a new lockdown; France has had steady exponential growth since November. This wave is at its most powerful, however, in Eastern Europe and now Latin America. (Increases in cases have also been marked in Norway; and insular Malta – one of Europe’s best performers in 2020 – now has a severe outbreak.) While to some extent Europe’s present problems can be blamed on the slow vaccination rollout in Europe, the latest wave has also severely affected Chile, which has had a comprehensive vaccine rollout. (In Chile, the older people who have been vaccinated are doing very well; it is the younger people who have been spreading the virus who have been showing up in large numbers in hospitals this month. And Norway – a prominent early vaccinating country – is now at its all-time daily covid case peak; though it still has fewer daily cases per capita, and many fewer deaths, than does Sweden.)
While Italy is a covid magnitude five country, and – as noted – has been so for five months, New Zealand and Australia are magnitude two countries (meaning that Italy’s infection rates are 1,000 times higher.) Both would be magnitude one countries – like China – were it not for the numbers of cases in MIQ (‘managed isolation and quarantine’). New Zealand has a higher daily incidence of MIQ covid than Australia, a reflection of more arrivals relative to its lower population size. In total, and including undiagnosed cases, New Zealand has had about 5,000 people infected; one person in a thousand, mostly returnees. This compares with one person in three in Italy and United Kingdom.
The final chart shows the most recent rise, in the world. These days – in late March – there are over 500,000 new reported cases each day. A few weeks ago the world was getting down to about 300,000 daily reported cases. In a global context, this is Covid19’s fifth wave.