THE SECOND wave of the pandemic has been devastating in much of the world. Since September 1st covid-19 has claimed the lives of 1.6m people, compared with 850,000 in the preceding nine months. In America alone, the death toll passed 500,000 on February 22nd. What is more, new variants that may be more transmissible, more deadly or better at evading the body’s immune response are spreading.
At last, some optimism is budding. More than 200m doses of covid-19 vaccine have been administered across 92 countries. After a slow start, America’s programme is gathering speed: 16% of adults have received a first shot, and President Joe Biden is on target to meet his goal of 150m doses by his 100th day in office. The number of infections in the country is falling by half every 14 days.