More than
people have died from
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More than 0,000,000 cases have been reported.

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The coronavirus continues to spread rapidly in many parts of the world at the start of 2021, despite the deployment of vaccines that could eventually defeat the pandemic and new lockdown measures in many nations. More than 2 million people have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, since it first emerged in Wuhan, China, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. It took only a few months for the novel coronavirus to spread to the far corners of the globe. The true case and death counts are probably far higher than the confirmed tally, due to widespread limitations on testing.

New daily reported cases across the world

At least have been reported since Feb. 29.

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[A detailed look at the virus’s spread through U.S. counties and states]

Despite advances in medical treatments for covid-19 and the rollout of vaccinations in a number of countries, a surge in cases this winter led many governments to return to lockdowns, while new variants of the virus have alarmed researchers and policymakers.

“It is no exaggeration to say that I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year,” Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said as she announced tough new measures on Jan. 4.

Where the virus is surging

How the U.S. compares to other regions

The United States, which continues to have the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths globally, saw its death toll top 350,000 in early January. Though President Trump has disputed the numbers, public health experts including Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have said the figures are accurate and alarming.

“Those are real numbers, real people and real deaths,” Fauci said during an appearance on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” on Jan. 3.

The United States is among the countries that have begun vaccination programs — part of a historic global race to develop, test and distribute vaccines in less than a year. However, with much of the rollout left to state governments amid chronic public health underfunding, delivery has been slower than planned.

Case levels in India, Brazil and Russia are the largest after the United States.

Rates of infection have increased dramatically in some European countries over the winter. In Britain, cases surged despite targeted restrictions, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a third national lockdown on Jan. 4.

British health officials have placed some of the blame on a new variant, known officially as known as B.1.1.7, which appears to be more transmissible. More than 30 countries so far have reported cases of the U.K. variant of the coronavirus, and many have closed borders to British travelers.

Experts have also expressed concern about a separate variant detected in South Africa, which has been driving a surge in cases, along with new restrictions, in the country.

Some countries have seen success at controlling the virus. In New Zealand, which closed its borders and ordered people to stay home as a first wave hit in the spring, confirmed infections went down to zero for a time. Taiwan and Singapore have kept their outbreaks far smaller than those in other parts of the world, which some experts attribute to their early responses and sophisticated tracking and tracing.

China, the early epicenter of the crisis, has seen much of daily life return to normal. In the early months of the outbreak, it reported more cases than any other country. Its tally of new infections peaked in mid-February and approached zero by mid-March, although questions surround the accuracy of its data.

Wuhan, the virus’s initial epicenter, ground to a standstill in January 2020 as the coronavirus spiraled out of control. But after months without a confirmed case of domestic transmission, around 1.4 million children in the city returned to classrooms at the start of September, and crowded events have resumed.

Global hot spots for reported cases per capita

7-day rolling average of daily new reported cases per 100,000 residents

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Note: Only countries with a population of more than 1 million are shown.

The virus has waned in China, and daily life has returned to normal for most of the population. But concerns about the virus returning have not abated: In October, Chinese authorities ordered mass testing in the Xinjiang city of Kashgar after a suspected outbreak.

After testing around 4.5 million people, they reported they had found 164 asymptomatic cases.

Compare countries by new daily reported cases per 100k

At least have been reported since Feb. 29.

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At least have been reported since Feb. 29.

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Case and death counts by country

CountryReported cases per 100kNew cases in last 7 days per 100kChange in daily cases in last 7 days

[What you need to know about coronavirus]

The worry is that these reprieves may be temporary or, in some cases, just plain lucky. Some nations that avoided the first wave would go on to see huge daily case numbers: The Czech Republic, where residents held a street party to say farewell to the coronavirus in June, had one of the worst outbreaks in the world just a few months later.

Mass vaccination programs are widely believed to be the best chance of eradicating the virus. Britain became the first country in the West to begin large scale vaccinations in December and a variety of countries have followed suit. China and Russia had already begun distributing their own vaccines globally, but they have not been subject to the standard of testing required by many governments.

Israel, which has seen several waves of the virus, had raced ahead of other nations and given the first doses of Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine to more than a tenth of its population by early January. China is aiming to vaccinate 50 million front-line workers with its domestically developed vaccine before the Lunar New Year.

There is still a long way to go, however, and many poorer countries have not secured enough doses of vaccines for their population. Some experts caution inequality in vaccine distribution could delay the end of the pandemic and have lingering effects on global development.

At their final news conference of 2020, officials from the World Health Organization said the pandemic should be a “wake-up call” and that future outbreaks could prove even more devastating.

“This pandemic has been very severe,” WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan said on Dec. 28. “It has affected every corner of this planet. But this is not necessarily the big one.”

About this story

Data on deaths and cases comes from The Washington Post’s reporting and the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Country population data is from the World Bank. Taiwan population data is from the Taiwan Statistical Bureau.

Lauren Tierney, Joe Fox, Tim Meko, Chris Alcantara, John Muyskens, Shelly Tan, Adrián Blanco, Armand Emamdjomeh, Youjin Shin, Monica Ulmanu, Harry Stevens, Kevin Schaul, Bonnie Berkowitz, Leslie Shapiro, Siobhán O’Grady and Adam Taylor contributed to this report.

Originally published Jan. 22, 2020.