Weekly review of the coronavirus situation across the world

By Sergiu Ipatii

Weekly review of the coronavirus situation across the world

(March 17 – 24, 2020)

“This is serious. And we must take it seriously.” This is one of the most relevant quotes describing the current COVID-19 global pandemic. It was said by Chancellor Angela Merkel in her first televised address to the nation in 14 years of rule on March 18th. Almost 20,000 new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Germany since then. Today, there are nearly 30,000 COVID-19 patients, 126 of whom have died and 453 have totally recovered. 

With almost 40,000 daily cases registered globally in the last two days, the total number of infected people has reached 372,000 (roughly 190,000 new cases compared to the situation as at March 17). A little over 16,000 people have died because of the virus. Italy is suffering the most, registering over 6,000 deaths and over 50,000 active COVID-19 cases.

At the same time, 108,000 people have recovered from the disease. In China, where the virus was first detected in late 2019, the number of new cases has been in constant decline since March 1. Today, out of over 81,000 Chinese patients, 73,000 have recovered. At a certain point, the WHO recommended the actions taken by the Chinese against the virus spread as an example for Governments across the world to follow. A group of Chinese medical officials has now travelled to Italy to assist the authorities to tackle the pandemic at local level.

Two candidate vaccines are in clinical evaluation according to the WHO. The European Commission has announced EUR 80 million for COVID-19 vaccine developing with the funds being allocated to a highly innovative vaccine developer from Tübingen, Germany, to scale up the development and production of a vaccine against the coronavirus in Europe.

“Stay home” an ethical recommendation that can save lives

Despite the drastic measures, such as lockdowns and border closures, taken by many Governments, COVID-19 continues to spread. According to Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases mapping by Johns Hopkins University, 170 countries and territories are facing the COVID-19 virus so far. Multiple key spring events in the international development sector are cancelled because of the pandemic.

Avoiding local transmission has proved to be a more dramatic challenge to confront. Italian mayors are desperately addressing their communities to #stay home.

“The joke and fun ended when the hospital was already full of patients” said a doctor from the Carlo Poma hospital in Lombardia, one of Italy’s most affected regions.

Development organizations are also involved in fighting misinformation and fake news about the coronavirus. The WHO, UNICEF and UNDP have established a partnership with WhatsApp, a popular messaging and calling application. These efforts have resulted in the launch of a WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub and a $1m donation from WhatsApp to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). The IFCN will support fact-checking for the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, which spans more than 100 local organizations in at least 45 countries according to a press release.

Aid measures

The development community has been active during the past week. Development agencies and organizations continue to provide assistance for the developing countries affected by, or at high-risk of, the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 Solidarity Respond Fund, launched by WHO, UN and partners, has raised more than US$70 million, in just 10 days, from more than 187,000 individuals and organizations. The money will be used to help health workers on the front lines to do their life-saving work, treat patients and advance research for treatments and vaccines.

USAID has announced about US$62 million to be provided from its Emergency Reserve Fund for Contagious Infectious-Disease Outbreaks. The money, alongside the US$37 million announced earlier for the same purpose, will be used to address the COVID-19 pandemic in developing countries. In a press release, the agency noted that the activities would include “heightened risk communications and engagement with local communities; the prevention and control of infection in health facilities, including through the provision of personal protective equipment and other critical commodities; increasing laboratory, disease-surveillance and rapid-response capacity; the management of cases of COVID-19; screening at points of entry; and global and regional coordination”.

Current USAID funding opportunities can be analyzed on the DevelopmentAid platform.

In Mongolia, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has reallocated $1.4 million from one of its health projects. The money will be spent on the procurement of essential medical equipment for the early detection, emergency care and management of severe respiratory diseases. Ten COVID-19 cases have been reported in Mongolia so far. Earlier in March, the bank announced support for Sri-Lanka and Philippines.  Projects financed by the ADB can be traced via developmentaid.org.

Meanwhile, the procurement process for COVID-19 related projects is available through the developmentaid.org platform.

Stay tuned for the next DevelopmentAid Weekly Review of the coronavirus situation across the world to be released on April 1. Subscribe to our newsletter and learn more about the coronavirus outbreak and the efforts being made to tackle it by the international development community.

About COVID-2019

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals including camels, cattle, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between them such as was the case with MERS (2012) and SARS (2003).The symptoms of the virus are very similar to those of a common cold – runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, a general feeling of being unwell. Blood tests are necessary in order to prove the presence of the virus in the organism.

Named by scientists as the “Wuhan seafood market pneumonia virus”,  COVID-19 is a coronavirus, like MERS and SARs, all of which have their origins in bats. Initial reports show that, in the early stages of the outbreak (early January 2020), many of those infected in Wuhan had some link to a large seafood and live animal market – the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, mainly its western wing where wildlife animals are traded. This suggests that the virus initially affected an animal and subsequently spread to a person in a what a CDC has called “the species barrier jump”.