The current COVID Delta wave

The graph below summarizes the COVID-19 situation as of yesterday (19 August 2021) for a selection of countries of interest to me. Confirmed case numbers have been rising in all these countries except the Netherlands (where case numbers have dropped to 30% of the peak on 19 July). Almost all the cases in this latest wave are the Delta variant.

Current case rates per million population are more than 50% of the previous maximum country-specific rate for the UK and USA, and exceed the previous maximum by 6% in Australia. The apparent case fatality rate (deaths/cases) is highest for Australia at 1.24% followed by the USA 0.74% and lowest in the Netherlands (0.29%) and Switzerland (0.19%). Around 60% of the population are fully vaccinated in the Netherlands (62%), UK (61%), Germany (58%), and Italy (58%). These are followed by the France (54%), USA (51%), Switzerland (50%) and last Australia (23%).

Ignoring Australia (which has very low case numbers and deaths relative to the other countries), there are two main outliers for apparent case fatality rates: Switzerland with very low CFR at 0.19% and the USA with a high CFR at 0.74%. Vaccination rates are similar in both countries, but my sense is that there is a huge difference with mask wearing and other social restrictions to limit transmission. And also large differences in health system access and health insurance coverage and adequacy.

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