Global epidemiological situation
New COVID-19 cases and deaths continued to increase during the past week, by 6% and 4% respectively (Figure 1, Table 1). The Region of the Americas again accounted for the greatest proportion, reporting over 2.3 million new cases (half of the global cumulative), while the European Region reported the highest number of new deaths (36 286; 46%) in the past week. The African Region accounted for the greatest relative increase in new cases (27%) and deaths (34%) compared to the previous week. Increasing trends were also observed in the Western Pacific Region, while the South-East Asia and Eastern Mediterranean Regions were the only two that reported a decrease in both cases and deaths. On 14 December 2020, authorities from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) reported a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 to WHO. It was identified by viral genomic sequencing, and is referred to as SARS-CoV-2 Variant Under Investigation, year 2020, month 12, variant 01 (SARS-CoV-2 VUI 202012/01). Initial analysis indicates that the variant may spread more readily between people. Investigations are ongoing to determine if it is associated with any change in the severity of infection, antibody response or vaccine efficacy. As of 20 December there have been over 75 million cases and over 1.6 million deaths since the start of the pandemic.