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Global Covid Infections Drop to Slowest Pace Since October

Almost a year after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic, there are some encouraging signs as new global infections fall sharply. Fresh Covid-19 cases for the week ended Feb. 14 were the lowest since October, at 2.7 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That resulted in a 2.5% increase in total infections from the previous week, the weakest gain since the start of the pandemic and less than half the rate seen a month earlier.

The death toll is also beginning to ease, yet at a less dramatic pace. Daily fatalities have averaged less than 10,000 over the past five days, down from a peak of more than 18,000 in mid-January. It’s too early to count vaccines as a major reason for the improvement in the data, and some of the trend may partly reflect lower testing because of holidays and severe winter storms in the U.S. But it’s clear that social-distancing behavior and lockdown efforts around the world are helping to keep down the numbers.

Of course, it’s also too soon to declare a victory against the coronavirus. Variants — those already identified as well as others that may emerge — present a very real threat to the recovery, and could send infections climbing once again. Health officials are warning against complacency. Global herd immunity is years away, according to some calculations, and so is the revival of long-haul travel.

Two factors will likely help keep cases and deaths lower in the months ahead. The first is the coming of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, as the virus tends to be less active during warmer weather. The other is that the biggest vaccination campaign in history is just getting started. Already, more than 186 million shots have been administered across 82 countries, and more regions are set to start inoculations in coming weeks.

Global Covid Infections Drop to Slowest Pace Since October, Bloomberg, Feb 18

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