Story at a glance

  • WHO data indicates a slowing COVID-19 transmission rate in most global regions.
  • The U.S. still leads in new confirmed infections.

New COVID-19 cases across the world have continued to fall for the sixth consecutive week, according to a new epidemiological update released Tuesday from the World Health Organization (WHO). 

This amounts to a total of 2.4 million new cases worldwide throughout the week of Feb. 21, or an 11 percent decline compared to the prior week. 

The U.S. accounted for about 1 million of these new cases — the highest number globally. This is still a 19 percent decrease from the week before.


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Over the past three weeks, new COVID-19 deaths have steadily fallen as well. Last week, 66,000 fatalities were reported, representing a 20 percent decline compared with week-over-week data. 

Breaking this down by regions, the Americas are reporting the greatest decline in new cases, along with Europe, Africa and the Southeastern Asian countries. 

Two regions, the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Pacific, recorded slight inclines in new cases. In the Eastern Mediterranean, Iran, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates led the region in new confirmed cases. 

Across the Western Pacific, Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines each saw higher numbers of new COVID-19 cases. For Japan and Malaysia, however, this continued to be a decrease from previous weeks.   

Still, the U.S. also reports the highest number of new cases across the world, albeit at a slower rate than previous weeks. The WHO counts 480,467 new cases in the U.S., which, although large, is a 29 percent decline from the previous week.

The U.S. has recorded more 28 million cases, along with more 500,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The global cumulative is about 110.7 million cases and more than 2.4 million deaths, per the WHO.

As these new numbers come in, WHO authors also add that the U.K. strain of the virus is continuing to spread, having been detected in at least 101 countries. This strain is spreading faster than others, including the South African, Brazil and Japan variants.

Scientists tentatively conclude that the U.K. strain is more transmissible and comes with a possible increase in associated severity and mortality.

Current vaccines, both approved for emergency use and in development, are expected to work against it, with a “slight reduction but overall neutralizing titers still remained above the levels expected to confer protection,” WHO researchers write. 


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Published on Feb 24, 2021