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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Data: IRC; Chart: Axios Visuals

Coronavirus testing is barely scratching the surface in much of the developing world.

By the numbers: Americans are more than 200 times as likely to have been tested as people in countries like Nigeria and Somalia, according to data compiled by the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

What they're saying: "You've seen how difficult it was to get testing going here, so imagine what it's like in a country that's much poorer with much weaker state infrastructure and much weaker science infrastructure," David Miliband, the IRC's CEO, tells Axios in an interview.

  • The lack of tests in many poorer countries can be attributed to political dysfunction, poor infrastructure and shortages of testing kits and lab capacity.
  • In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Miliband notes, samples have to be transported to labs in Kinshasa. That's no easy task in a country where very few cities are connected to the capital by road.
  • What to watch: Many poorer countries that are now easing lockdowns may not have huge numbers of recorded cases, but also lack sufficient testing to know whether their outbreaks are under control.

Breaking it down: Big proportions of tests are coming back positive in countries like Somalia (45%), Afghanistan (30%), Chad (29%) and Mexico (29%), suggesting many cases remain undetected. Roughly 15% of tests in the U.S. and 6% in Germany return positive results.

  • In Yemen, Tanzania, Northeast Syria and even Nigeria, which is home to 200 million people, so little testing is being conducted that the available data is of limited value.
  • "We've got countries where there are hardly any tests going on at all," Miliband says, "and we've got countries in South Asia where we're getting enough testing to be very worried."
  • In Pakistan, he notes, it took 45 days to reach 5,000 cases, but just two more for the tally to double to 10,000.

What's next: It's far cheaper to prevent outbreaks from spreading within countries than to respond to massive outbreaks later — particularly given the risk they could spread around the world, Miliband says.

  • Even the basics — taking temperatures and isolating those who may be ill — require funding that is scarce in many countries.
  • The IRC is calling on Congress to include $12 billion for the developing world in its next round of COVID-19 funding.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Aug 31, 2020 - Health

India reports world's biggest daily coronavirus cases spike

Health care workers during door to door screening for the coronavirus in Mumbai, India, on Sunday. Photo: Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India reported Sunday 78,761 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, taking the total number in the country to over 3.5 million.

Why it matters: It's the highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases reported by a country since the pandemic began. India has the fastest-growing number of daily cases, with over 75,000 being reported for four consecutive days, per AP. "Crowded cities," not enough contact tracing and "lockdown fatigue" are driving the spread in the country of 1.4 billion people, as restrictions are loosened aimed a struggling economy, the New York Times notes.

Updated Oct 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Mix-and-matching gains momentum — Boosters overtake first doses in U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate Brazilian cityPanel endorses J&J booster.
  2. Health: Age is still a huge coronavirus risk factor — Unvaccinated 11x more likely to die from COVID — 5x more police officers died from COVID than guns.
  3. Politics: Over 30 states limited public health powers — Pope Francis calls on companies to release vaccine patents — Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.