The world has already reported more coronavirus cases in 2021 than it had in all of 2020, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.
Through Sunday, the world reported 83.62 million cases this year, up from 83.56 million cases last year.
The trajectory of the number of global cases in 2020 compared with 2021 is startling.
The early months of 2020 reflect the gradual rise and spread of the virus around the world. But since the fall of 2020, the global pace of infections hasn’t abated – even with 1.7 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses administered.
Confirmed coronavirus cases in India, the United States and Brazil have outpaced the rest of the world in 2020 and 2021, but the U.S, with half of the population at least partially vaccinated, is the only country where the number of cases have fallen this year.
India, which has seen a spike in infections and deaths in recent weeks, has reported 60% more cases than it did in 2020 and driven a large portion of the worldwide increases. Brazil is approaching 1 million more reported infections than last year.
Of the 10 countries that have reported the most coronavirus infections, four (the U.S., Italy, the United Kingdom and Russia) have reported fewer infections this year.
A lack of widespread testing in some places, and an initial lack of testing early in the pandemic nearly everywhere, mean many infections were never reported. Many cases are asymptomatic, also, so many people would not have been tested.
The biggest increases over last year were in several island countries, southeast Asia and South America. In Southeast Asia, cases were 127 times higher in Timor-Leste than last year, 66 times higher in Cambodia, 43 times higher in Laos and 17 times higher in Thailand.
Double-digit multiples in these countries are worrisome. But they also put India’s dire predicament into perspective. The combined number of confirmed cases during 2021 in these 10 countries (512,000) is just one-fifth of India’s weekly average of reported cases India in during May.
Americans still have suffered the most confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths since the start of the pandemic, but India could surpass U.S. this summer – or sooner – should infection trends continue.
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2:24 pm UTC May. 25, 2021
3:28 pm UTC May. 25, 2021