At this point, since COVID-19 began to affect people in late 2019 or early 2020, there have been over 260 million confirmed cases worldwide, and almost 5.2 million deaths. These numbers are considered by many experts to be much too low. When the worldwide death figure crossed five million, Amber D’Souza, professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told National Geographic, “It’s quite possible that the number of deaths is double what we see.”
Death figures in large emerging nations like India and Peru could be substantially undercounted. India’s official case count is 34.5 million, and deaths are listed at almost 469,000. India has 1.3 billion residents and relatively primitive medical services in some parts of the nation. India’s figures are almost universally considered too low.
Despite relatively high vaccination rates, some of the most developed nations in the world have high confirmed case and death counts. Germany, the U.K., Spain, and France are all among the top ten in the world based on confirmed cases. Currently, Germany and the U.K. are in the midst of aggressive fourth waves of the disease brought on by the Delta variant of the virus.
To make matters worse, a new variant has emerged in South Africa and started to spread. Given the name Omicron, there are worries that it may be fast spreading. Several nations have already curtailed travel to South Africa.
Ironically, the nation which is considered the most medically advanced in the world has the highest number of both confirmed cases and deaths. The US count sits at just over 48 million cases, which is 18% of the world’s total. Deaths, at just over 777,000 are 15% of the world’s total. US numbers are also undercounted according to most experts.
The US was hit very hard early in the pandemic. Deaths and cases in New York City and surrounding areas exploded in March, April, and May 2020. Another wave hit the Western states in summer 2020. A third hammered most of the U.S. a year ago when death rates and cases hit all-time highs. The current wave started in early September and has continued. Holiday gatherings this year could put infections higher again.
Will Omicron reach the US? Almost certainly. Whether it will cause a fifth wave of the disease is too early to tell.