Global epidemiological situation
Globally in the past week, over 4 million new cases were reported. Although this is a 12% decrease compared to the previous week, this and other short-term trends in data should be interpreted with caution over the end-of-year holiday season, as numbers may be influenced by presentation, testing and reporting delays. New deaths decreased by 8% to 72 730 (Figure 1, Table 1). The Region of the Americas accounts for 48% of all new cases and 42% of all new deaths globally. While new cases and deaths remained high in the European Region, which accounted for 37% and 42% respectively, both decreased compared to the previous week.
New cases and deaths declined in South-East Asia and Eastern Mediterranean regions. In the African Region, while both new cases and deaths remained low compared to other regions, there was a 20% increase in new cases and 37% in new deaths. In the Western Pacific Region, new cases increased by 13% and new deaths increased by 4%.
As of 27 December there have been over 79.2 million cases and over 1.7 million deaths reported since the start of the pandemic.
A variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in South Africa through retrospective genomic analyses of the virus. Initial analysis indicates that the variant, known as 501Y.V2, 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.