Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)

What is the global situation now?

Only if we end the pandemic everywhere can we end the pandemic anywhere. The entire world has the same goal: cases of COVID-19 need to go to zero.

The chart below shows which countries are making progress to this goal and which are not.

The trajectories show the daily number of confirmed cases. But the widely available data on confirmed cases only becomes meaningful when it can be interpreted in light of how much a country is testing. This is why Our World in Data built the global database on COVID-19 testing and the line colors in this chart show whether a country is testing adequately or not.

A country is not testing adequately when it is finding a case for every few tests they perform. Here it is likely that the true number of new cases is much higher than the number of cases that were confirmed by tests. When the positive rate of tests is high the line is shown in shades of red.

Blue lines mean that a country does many tests for each case it finds; the testing effort in these countries is adequate.

→ We explain this chart and the metrics in much more detail further below in the section ‘The chart to monitor the fight against the global pandemic’.

To be safe anywhere, every region in the world needs to make progress against the pandemic – and this means dark blue lines hitting zero.

Progress is possible – some countries bent the curve of new cases and are monitoring the outbreak well. But globally we are very far from the goal and the global number of confirmed cases is rising extremely fast.

Two questions guide this daily updated publication on the global COVID-19 pandemic:

  • How can we make progress against the pandemic?
  • And, are we making progress?

To answer these questions we need data. But data is not enough. This is especially true in this pandemic because even the best available data is far from perfect. Much of our work therefore focuses on explaining what the data can – and can not – tell us about the pandemic. 

Our goal is two-fold:

  1. To provide reliable, global and open data and research on how the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading, what impact the pandemic has, how we can make progress against the pandemic, and whether the measures countries are taking are successful or not;
  2. And to build an infrastructure that allows research colleagues – and everyone who is interested – to navigate and understand this data and research.

Before we study how to make progress we should consider the more basic question: is it possible to do so?

The answer is very clear: While some countries have failed in their response to the pandemic, others met the challenge much more successfully. Perhaps the most important thing to know about the pandemic is that it is possible to fight the pandemic.

Responding successfully means two things: limiting the direct and the indirect impact of the pandemic. Countries that have responded most successfully were able to avoid choosing between the two: they avoided the trade-off between a high mortality and a high socio-economic impact of the pandemic. New Zealand has been able to bring infections down and open up their country internally. Other island nations were also able to almost entirely prevent an outbreak (like Taiwan, Australia, and Iceland). But not only islands were able to bend the curve of infections and prevent large outbreaks – Norway, Uruguay, Switzerland, South Korea, and Germany are examples. These countries suffered a smaller direct impact, but they also limited the indirect impacts because they were able to release lockdown measures earlier.

Together with colleagues at the Robert Koch Institute, the Chan School of Public Health, the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and other institutions we study countries that responded most successfully in detail.

The point of this work is to understand those countries so that the rest of the world can learn from them. We have published three country specific studies:

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