The virus in waves

Robert Bender   13 August 2021


The Johns Hopkins website offers several charts showing the developing waves of infection in the dozen countries with most cases. All are dated 11 August.



The chart shows developments since early 2020. It is a winter virus and the steepest part of the curve is in Dec 2020/Jan 2021, rapidly growing from 10 million to 26 million cases. It flattened out somewhat after Biden took on the presidency on 21 January, but this month has started rising steeply again.


Part of the problem is the very uneven spread of enthusiasm for vaccinations, confined mainly to the northeast and the west coast, with much resistance in the Old South and some of the cattle country in the northwest. So they are now up to 36 million cases, over 11% of their entire population of 320 million people. A product of libertarian attitudes, misinformation campaigns supported by the previous president, and widespread suspicion of government interventions.


If the upturn continues, they will soon reach 40 million cases. You will notice the deaths in one day almost equal Australia’s entire total since the pandemic began 20 months ago. They have had 618,000 deaths to date, 0.2% of their population: 2 people for every 1,000. There must be very few Americans who don’t personally know somebody who has died of this virus. But still there is very strong resistance to vaccination in almost half the population. They have 4.5% of the world’s people but have had 18% of virus cases and 14% of the world’s deaths. Just over 50% are now vaccinated, but though it rose rapidly to that figure it has now slowed to a crawl as it bumps into the anti-vaxx resistance, so herd immunity is unlikely to be achieved there.





The country has 1.36 billion people, with so far 32 million cases recorded, 2.5% of its people. It has been through two steep waves, from July to October 2020, cases growing from under a million to about 8 million in 3 months, then it flattened out for 5 months until the second, far steeper wave took cases from 11 million rapidly up to 28 million in a month or so. They have recorded 430,000 deaths, only 1/6 of the number per 100,000 recorded in the USA, but still it is 10% of the word’s recorded COVID deaths. Only 8.5% of their billions have been vaccinated so herd immunity is a very long way off, possibly years.




It has 211 million people of whom 20 million have been infected with the virus, 9.6% of the people. The steeply rising curve has virtually not slowed its rise since June last year. 22.5% of their people are now vaccinated, about the same as Australia, but they still record 35,000 new cases in one day, close to the total number in Australia since the pandemic began 18 months ago (38,000), and 1,200 deaths in one day, as against our 950 overall total in 18 months. Brazil has 3% of the world’s people but has had 10% of virus cases and 13% of the world’s deaths.




With a population of 67 million and 6.4 million virus cases, almost 10% of their people, their curve has risen very steeply from about November 2020, early winter but has continued rising steeply well into summer and only slowed quite recently. But it is still over 32,000 cases in one day, again almost as many as Australia’s total for 18 months. And the curve has just turned up again, possibly starting a new wave. They have 1% of the world’s people, but 3% of virus cases and 2.6% of the world’s deaths, with a death rate per 100,000 people of 168, almost the same as in USA, as against our 4. Just over half their people have been vaccinated.




They have 144 million people, double France’s population, but about the same number of virus cases at 6,400,000, so 4.5% of their people have been infected.  The chart shows they have been through two waves, the second far worse, and are now well into a third, rising steeply from 5 million to their present level, and still recording 20,000 new cases in one day. They have 2% of world population but 3% of virus cases and almost 4% of deaths. Their death rate per 100,000 people is 114, as against our 4. Only 20% of their people have been vaccinated, so they are even behind Australia in the race to protect their people from this scourge.



United Kingdom

The country has about the same population size and number of virus cases as France: 67 million people and 6,200,000 cases, so again about 9% of their people have been infected, and they’ve more deaths than France at 130,000, or 196 per 100,000 people (as against our 4). The chart shows they had a little wave in the summer of 2020, then it rose very steeply all through winter, levelled off in early spring, but has been rising very steeply again for 2 months, through the northern summer, shooting past 6 million cases last month. Just like France, they have 1% of world population but 3% of virus cases and 3% of deaths. Almost 60% of their people are vaccinated but still they recorded 23,500 new cases in one day and 146 deaths, the same as in France.



Together these six countries have 30% of the world’s people, but have had 52.5% of the world’s virus cases and 47% of all deaths. The UK is an island, much like Australia (though it is far more densely peopled than our wide brown land), but that has not protected it from the pandemic.


Six examples of how NOT to manage a pandemic. In Australia everyone finds lockdowns frustrating, but the main result is that our hospitals are not overwhelmed and we have a far smaller proportion of the world’s cases and virus deaths than would be predicted from our population. We have 0.35% of the world’s people, but only 0.02% of virus cases and 0.02% of deaths. Our 38,000 cases involved 1.5 people in each 100,000, so 0.15% of our people have been infected. Despite all the tension between federal and state governments and a wee bit of politicisation of the issue, by and large we have handled it extremely well (apart from the vaccination phase, that is).