Global COVID-19 Cases Near 30 Million, Millions Too Low

Global COVID-19 Cases Near 30 Million, Millions Too Low

September 15, 2020

At the current rate new COVID-19 cases continue to be added worldwide, the figure will reach 30 million this week. The rise has not slowed; an average of 250,000 to 300,000 is added to the count every day.

Since COVID-19 began to spread in late December of last year, it has gone relentlessly from country to country. The rapid rise in cases was worst in the United States and Europe early on. America continues to be the nation with the highest case count, at almost 6.7 million. Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom were among the earliest hotspots. Despite a sharp slowing of in the spread in these parts of Europe, they are still among the 15 nations with the highest numbers of confirmed cases.

The part of the world where COVID-19 hit the hardest, based on a concentration among the population, was relatively small countries in Latin America. Peru has the fifth-highest case count in the world at 733,860. It ranks 44th globally in total population at just under 33 million people. Columbia ranks sixth in the world in confirmed cases at 721,892 but ranks 28th in the world with a population of 50 million. Chile ranks 12th in the world with 436,443 confirmed cases. Its population rank is 60th, or just over 19 million. Poor health care, crowded cities and abject poverty have been offered as reasons the pandemic hit these countries so hard.

Not surprisingly, with the exception of China, the largest numbers of confirmed cases are in some of the largest nations by population. India ranks second in confirmed cases at 4,933,182. Its population of 1.37 billion puts it second in the world by that measure. Brazil ranks third in confirmed cases at 4,349,833 and sixth in the world in population at 212 million. Russia ranks fourth in confirmed cases at 1,073,229. Its population of 147 million is the ninth largest in the world.

Among the most perplexing things about the spread of the pandemic is that some of the world’s largest nations by population have relatively few cases. Bangladesh ranks eighth in the world in population at 169 million. Its confirmed case count is only 339,332. Indonesia ranks fourth in population at 270 million, but it has a confirmed case count of 225,030. Pakistan ranks sixth in the world in population at 221 million. Its confirmed case count is only 302,424.

The most widely accepted theory for these low counts is that the nations substantially underreport the true figures. Country to country, it may be government decisions to undercount or lack of infrastructure to track cases. Whichever is the fact, it means the global count is under by what could be several million.

When 30 million confirmed cases are reached later this week, there will be a suspicion that the number is not even close to reality.

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