December 11, 2023

Covid-19: 2021 in numbers – Hindustan Times

Pandemic may have been Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year in 2020, as Covid-19 infections spread across most of the world in the year and people looked up the word the most in the year. However, 2021 saw more confirmed Covid-19 infections and resulting deaths — globally and in almost all countries.

About 182.73 million cases of the infection have been reported across the globe in 2021 up to December 6, 2.2 times the 83.73 million reported in 2020, according to data collated by John Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering. This is in part because the virus spread to many countries later in 2020 while it has had a whole year to spread in 2021, because testing may not have been adequate at the beginning of the pandemic, and because the infection is not being fought with harsh lockdowns this year. Another likely reason for more infections this year is that more transmissible strains of the virus have spread only in 2021. The first global peak of cases in terms of seven-day rolling averages of daily cases was 745,000 and came in the week ending January 11, 2021. It has been followed in quick succession with a bigger peak of 827,220 cases in the week ending May 5 and a smaller peak of 662,030 cases in the week ending September 2.

As is expected, a majority of deaths resulting from Covid-19 have also taken place in 2021, but the degree by which deaths increased in 2021 is lesser than the degree by which cases have. There have been 3.38 million Covid-19 deaths in 2021 up to December 6, 1.8 times the 1.88 million deaths in 2020. A smaller degree of increase in Covid-19 deaths is also not surprising. After a year of the pandemic, doctors knew what they had to do to save lives. The case fatality rate (CFR) – share of confirmed cases that result in deaths – has come down to 1.85% in 2021 compared to 2.25% in 2020. To be sure, some of this decrease in CFR can also be the result of wider and better testing. If even asymptomatic or mild cases are confirmed through tests, it increases the denominator for CFR, and can lower it.

India, partly because of its large population, has accounted for one of the highest contributions to Covid-19 infections and deaths in the world in 2021 too. Up to December 6 this year, it accounted for 13.3% of global cases and 9.6% of global deaths due to Covid-19 this year. This puts it just behind the 15.9% contribution made by the US to cases and behind the US (13%) and Brazil (12.4%) in contribution to global deaths. The US contribution to both Covid-19 cases and deaths has come down this year. It had contributed 24% and 18.7%, respectively to cases and deaths, in 2020. India’s contribution has grown compared to 2020. It contributed 12.3% to cases and 7.9% to deaths in 2020.

In absolute numbers, India has reported 24.36 million cases of Covid-19 in 2021 up to December 6, 2.4 times the 10.29 million cases reported in 2020. As is the case with the global trend, deaths increased this year by a lesser degree. There have been 324,783 Covid-19 deaths so far, 2.2 times the 149,036 deaths in 2020. India’s CFR has been lower than the global CFR both in 2020 and 2021. It was 1.45% in 2020 and is 1.33% so far in 2021. However, in India’s case, this lower CFR could also be because of a big undercounting of deaths in some regions.

All states and UTs in India except Andaman and Nicobar Islands – it has reported 2,747 cases so far compared to 4,941 last year — have reported more cases in 2021 than last year. Covid-19 deaths are also higher in 2021 than in 2020 in all states and UTs except Ladakh, which has reported 88 deaths in 2021 compared to 127 in 2020. To be sure, unlike at the country-level, CFR did not come down in all states and UTs in 2021. Out of 35 states and UTs (Lakshadweep was untouched by the pandemic in 2020), only 16 have a lower CFR in 2021. There is no good correlation between testing rates in states and the CFR in either 2020 or 2021 or in their change between the two years. This suggests that the trends in CFR are not merely a reflection of testing rates. They are likely guided by a number of factors, such as the impact of the more severe Delta variant, lockdown measures, and the capacity of health services.

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2021-12-08 10:15:19

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