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The coronavirus continues to spread rapidly around the world after new daily cases hit a peak in January, despite the deployment of millions of doses of vaccines that could eventually defeat the pandemic and the return of lockdown measures in many countries.

Well beyond 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. The true case and death counts are probably far higher than the confirmed tally, due to widespread limitations on testing.

Jump to metric:

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]

After more than a year of battling the disease, a variety of vaccines have been rolled out at record speed. With more than 100 million doses given out around the world, the number of doses administered has surpassed the number of people confirmed to have been infected.

That does not take into account the large number of cases that were never confirmed, however. Nor does it consider how the distribution of doses has mostly been limited to wealthy countries, with poorer ones left behind.

By the start of February, months after vaccinations first began in Britain and after millions of doses had been administered in mostly wealthy countries, just one low-income country had began its vaccinations — and that country, Guinea, had only vaccinated 55 people.

Doses of covid-19 vaccines administered per 100,000 residents

Reported doses administered per day
CountryTotal doses given per 100kPct. of pop. partially vaccinatedPct. of pop. completed vaccination

“I can’t say it’s surprising,” said Thomas J. Bollyky, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “In every previous pandemic where we have our global health crisis, where there has been limited supplies of medical intervention, wealthy nations have hoarded.”

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, after setting records with over 300,000 confirmed new daily cases in January. Well over 400,000 deaths from covid-19 have been recorded across the country.

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.

With much of the rollout initially left to state governments by the outgoing Trump administration amid chronic public health underfunding, delivery has been slower than planned. President Biden has pledged to administer 100 million doses within his first 100 days in office, one of the most ambitious vaccination plans of any nation.

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

Rates of infection have increased dramatically in some European countries over the winter, prompting a return to measures strict measures they had hoped to avoid. 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. Experts have also expressed concern about a separate variant detected in South Africa and another detected in Brazil.

These variants are suspected to be more transmissible and may be driving spikes that are overwhelming hospitals. They have already spread far beyond the borders of the countries where they were first found and some experts fear that unless the virus’ spread is controlled, more variants that are resistant to vaccination could emerge.

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 of 2020 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, despite limited testing data.

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 third of its population by the end of January. Early signs from the country suggest that the large scale of vaccinations have had an impact on the spread of the virus.

“We say with caution, the magic has started,” Eran Segal, a data scientist with the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, tweeted on Feb. 1. Segal pointed to declines in new cases, hospitalizations and the number of seriously ill.

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.

“Vaccines are the shot in the arm we all need, literally and figuratively,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing in January. “But we now face the real danger that even as vaccines bring hope to some, they become another brick in the wall of inequality between the worlds of the world’s haves and have-nots.”

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. World vaccinations data comes from Our World in Data and The Washington Post’s reporting. 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, Emily Liu, Anthony Pesce, Susan Tyler, Simon Glenn-Gregg, Erik Reyna, Peter Andringa and Adam Taylor contributed to this report.

Contact us at worldcoronavirustracker@washpost.com.

Originally published Jan. 22, 2020.