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Contagions, vaccines and variants: this is how the world faced its second year of pandemic in 2021

2021 was a challenging year in terms of global health. COVID-19 settled during this period bringing with it new variants that put the population of the five continents on alert.

In more than 90% of countries, deaths caused by the coronavirus doubled and, in some cases, even tripled.

Scientific efforts to combat this pandemic continue to take hopeful steps as new mutations appear when we least expect them.

Since his appearance in Wuhan, China, the SARS-CoV-2 has generated around 272′197,400 infections Worldwide and, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, this virus has killed more than 5 million 329 thousand people of all possible ages.

The statistical data of this institution -updated this week- indicated that more than 800 thousand people died as a result of the COVID-19 in U.S, since the beginning of the pandemic. Of that total, 351,754 Americans lost their lives throughout 2020.

Almost 61% of its inhabitants have been vaccinated with the two recommended doses to counteract the virus and avoid fatal outcomes.

Brazil is the country of Latin America that registers the highest number of deaths during the two years of the pandemic. Until the closing of this report, there were more than 617,270 deaths due to the COVID-19. Despite being the place of origin of the variant Gamma (discovered in Manaus in November 2020), the South American country was cruelly affected by the variant Delta.

The India, whose population exceeds 1.38 billion inhabitants, and where the Delta variant was detected for the first time, has registered around 34 million 710 thousand infections and more than 476 thousand deaths to date. Their efforts to combat this virus remain insufficient after the slow vaccination process. Only 38% of its citizens have managed to inoculate with the two doses recommended by the WHO.

In the following graphs we present the list of the 15 countries with the highest number of deaths due to COVID-19. Likewise, we make a comparison of the accumulated deaths in 2020 vs 2021.

This table compares the deaths from COVID-19 registered between 2020 and 2021. (Graph GEC)


This 2021, the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) was positioned as the most lethal of the COVID-19 lineages. Discovered in October 2020 in India, it was named by the WHO as a variant of concern (VOC).

“It has become apparent that more public health risks are currently associated with B.1.617.2, while lower transmission rates have been observed with the other lineages.”, the WHO had informed in June of this year when discovering that its transmissibility and contagion were faster.

Some data shown by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that the delta variant causes more serious disease than previous strains in unvaccinated people.

Based on data from two different studies in Canada and Scotland, the probability of hospitalization for patients infected with the delta variant was higher than that for patients infected with either the alpha variant or the parent strains of the virus that causes the delta. COVID-19.

By the middle of this year, delta was already in at least 102 countries in the world (including countries of Latin America); thus generating a devastating third and fourth wave of infections.

The WHO assured that this strain of coronavirus reduced the effectiveness of vaccines against the transmission of the disease by 40%.

Currently, delta is present in more than 90% of infections in regions of Europe such as the United Kingdom, which this week presented a peak of more than 88 thousand infections in 24 hours. It is also spread in the main cities of the U.S.

However, the epidemiological alert was reignited at the end of November when Africa detected new cases of infections of COVID-19 of a variant unknown until that moment and that could face a new pandemic wave.

Omicron, as the WHO, has become potentially more contagious than delta and has at least 32 mutations.

Before the arrival of omicron, the European Union proposed - in an act to prevent the spread in the countries of its region - to suspend flights from southern Africa.  Action that has been held for almost a month.  (Photo: Hollie Adams / AFP)

For the first week of its appearance, in South Africa, most new infections are already related to omicron, where the daily rate of positive cases was increasing rapidly. For this week, more than 26,970 COVID-19 infections were registered in 24 hours, according to data from the AFP news agency.

The president of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, assured on December 8 that omicron seems to have a higher reinfection rate, but cause milder symptoms; while Pfizer and BioNTech They assured that their vaccine against the coronavirus is “effective” against this variant after three doses.

Before the imminent arrival of omicron, the European Union proposed – in an act to prevent the spread in the countries of its region – to suspend flights from southern Africa.

Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, France and other governments around the world decided to re-close their borders to at least 10 South African countries to prevent the spread. However, the contagions were inevitable.

Almost a month after its discovery, omicron has already claimed at least one life in the UK. Experts assured that, in just a few months, this new strain could be the dominant one, displacing delta.

“Ómicron is going very fast and has become the dominant variant in some countries, especially South Africa, and we expect it to become dominant in the UK and other countries in the next week or months. It is not difficult to see a situation in which omicron will become dominant throughout the world in the next two months, given that it has already been detected in 82 countries “, said this week to the EFE agency Ramus Bech Hansen, CEO of Airifnity, a scientific information analysis company.


The great containment to avoid death by COVID-19 it is certainly vaccination. During this 2021, governments at the global level have managed to implement an adequate process for the administration of the two doses recommended by the WHO. However, this organization also denounced that the most powerful countries were leaving those regions with fewer economic resources without vaccines.

Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covaxin are the WHO approved vaccines to prevent serious cases and / or death from coronavirus. However, countries such as Russia and Cuba inoculated their population with doses of their own antidotes, which, although they do not have the approval of the health organization, have shown to have equal or better efficacy against the virus.

Nowadays, China, with a population that exceeds 1,402 million inhabitants, has managed to inoculate more than 1,163 million people with the two recommended doses.

India vaccinated more than 525 million inhabitants during the two years of the pandemic; followed by the United States, which occupies the third position in the Ranking of countries that managed to vaccinate the largest number of population.

The list of the first 15 countries to achieve a complete vaccination is shown in the following graph.

List the 15 countries that have applied at least the two recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.  (Graphic: GEC)

Likewise, we show a comparison of the 10 countries whose population registered more cases of contagion since the beginning of the pandemic.

Top 10 of the countries that registered the most COVID-19 infections between 2020 and 2021. (Graph: GEC)


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