By the end of August, the World Health Organization said the world was far from getting close enough to form herd immunity to stop the massive spread of the coronavirus. In addition, more than 800 million children around the planet are returning to schools without basic hand washing, putting them at increased risk of contracting the new coronavirus, the WHO warns. The total number of people with COVID-19 worldwide currently exceeds 29.5 million, with more than 933,000 deaths. More than 20 million have recovered from the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In Europe, as reported at the end of August, there were fewer deaths from the coronavirus, but the reasons for this are not yet clear. In England, the proportion of those infected and subsequently died from coronavirus was lower in early August than at the end of June. Over this period, mortality from infection fell by 55-80%, depending on which dataset was used, Jason Oke of Oxford University and his colleagues found out. For example, in the week starting August 17, 95 people died and just over 7,000 cases were confirmed across the UK. In the first week of April, 7164 people died, and almost 40 thousand more had a positive result when tested for coronavirus.
Dividing the number of deaths by the number of cases gives an approximate case fatality rate of about 1% in August, up from almost 18% in April. These figures do not reflect the real mortality rate at present, because the number of deaths lags behind the facts of infection by several weeks, and the testing regimes have changed. But they still indicate some shift. The situation is not unique to England and the rest of the UK, says Oke, who found the trend is across Europe. However, why this is happening is unclear. Data from England show that the proportion of young people infected is higher than it was during the first peak in April, with the incidence being highest between 10 and 16 August among people aged 15 to 44. COVID-19 is known to be less dangerous for young people, so a change in the demographic group of those infected may be one of the possible reasons why the disease now seems less deadly. However, Oke does not think that one change in age composition is enough to explain what is happening. Many older people are still testing positive for coronavirus, he said. Another possible explanation, according to some researchers, is that patients are getting better treatment in hospitals that have more beds.
On Sunday 6 September, British authorities announced 2,988 new cases of coronavirus, the highest since May 23, when Britain was under lockdown. In Spain, one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus in Europe, the number of patients is also growing. There are 268 infected per 100 thousand inhabitants of Spain. This is the highest figure among European countries. Since the beginning of September, more cases have been reported in Spain than during the first wave of coronavirus in April. The current cases in Spain, as well as in Britain, have become younger: now there are mainly people under 40 who are sick, and their illness is much easier than that of the elderly. Along with age, mortality also decreased: in the spring peak, an average of 700 people per day died in the country, but now - 70. At the same time, a spring scenario with overcrowded hospitals is unlikely, said Professor Guillermo Martinez de Tejada at the University of Navarra. Now only 7.5% of hospital beds are occupied in the country. In this regard, Spain has not yet introduced new national restrictions, only in some regions the authorities insist on wearing masks and prohibit gathering in groups of more than 10 people.