Omicron Over the World

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We are now about in the middle of January so I thought I’d take another quick look at some worldwide statistics. Again, all of these are taken from the WHO.

In each table, we’ll look at the percentage increase in cases and deaths as well as the actual number of cases and deaths. From those last two, we’ll calculate the case fatality rate (cfr). As a reminder, this is not the actual fatality rate of the virus because there are many cases that never get counted because not everyone gets tested.

This first table looks at mid October through mid November before we knew about Omicron. Europe and the Western Pacific (Australia) were seeing the biggest increases in cases. In most regions, the percentage increase in cases and deaths were similar. And the CFR for that month was 1.6% for the world with the range going from 1.3% to 3.5%.

Oct 15 to Nov 15CasesDeathsCasesDeathsCFR
Western Pacific8.79.8783332120331.5%
SE Asia1.82.4767073162602.1%
Eastern Mediterranean3.23.4507982101402.0%

Between mid November and mid December, Omicron took off in South Africa. That is reflected in the table below where the African region saw more than five times as many cases as the previous month. But they actually had fewer deaths even with that big increase in cases. Europe was also starting to see the impact as cases were up but the CFR dropped at bit. The increase in deaths worldwide was less than the previous month even as cases went up.

Nov 15 to Dec 15CasesDeathsCasesDeathsCFR
Western Pacific9.010.2878399137711.6%
SE Asia1.12.2482908151023.1%
Eastern Mediterranean2.42.439325572121.8%

January 15th is a Saturday and the WHO won’t update until Monday so this is data from December 15th to January 14th. But this is the time period where Omicron really took over with big increases in all but two regions. And even in SE Asia, while the overall increase was small, it was about four times the previous two months. All but one region saw total cases more than double from the previous month.

But deaths did not follow. Despite cases almost tripling, the total number of deaths was lower than the previous months. (Allowing for the fact that I have one fewer day). But the big change is in the CFR which was 0.4% for the world and below 0.8% for every region. The last time I looked at this, I was a little worried about what the Africa graph looked like but the CFR there was unchanged from the previous month som some of that increase was just due to larger case volume.

Dec 15 to Jan 14CasesDeathsCasesDeathsCFR
Western Pacific20.28.52159280126520.6%
SE Asia4.71.52092083108100.5%
Eastern Mediterranean3.71.663438049960.8%

As always, we have to caveat this because deaths lag behind cases. Which means at some point, case numbers will peak and start to fall off but deaths may continue to rise for a bit. And that could change these numbers.

But this continues to be good news and suggests that this new variant isn’t as deadly as previous ones. The bad news is that we may not really see a meaningful reduction in the number of deaths just because we have so many more cases. That will still provide a way to spin the doom and gloom scenarios.

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