Covid-19 by the numbers

By Vivian Ho, Ph.D.
James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics

Kirstin R.W. Matthews, Ph.D.
Fellow in Science and Technology Policy

Heidi Russell, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Pediatrics and Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy
Baylor College of Medicine


As of Friday, June 5, data from the Covid Tracking Project showed that the 7-day average (smoothed) number of new U.S. daily cases rose to 22,308, an 8.5% increase from 20,559 a week earlier. The percent of cases testing positive also rose from 4.9% a week earlier to 5.2% last Friday, and the 550,915 tests for the nation still lie well below the target of 900,000 tests per day. Here in Texas, the smoothed number of daily new cases experienced a significant increase to 1,325 last Friday, a 43% jump compared to 928 a week ago. Correspondingly, the percent of cases testing positive has risen from 6.1% a week ago to 7.4% last Friday.

Risk factors and disease effects

Public health officials are recommending that everyone who attended a demonstration memorializing George Floyd to get a coronavirus test in one or two weeks.

Around the world, the coronavirus appears to be sparing populations at high altitude. Researchers hypothesize that populations living at high altitudes might be benefiting from a combination of low levels of oxygen in the blood and a natural environment hostile to the virus.

A number of countries that have reopened schools in the past two months have reported no resulting increase in coronavirus infection rates. It could be that children below 10 years of age have fewer of the receptors in the nasal cavity that the virus uses to enter the body.

Scientists are trying to determine why Covid-19 affects men more strongly than women. Recent data has suggested it is related to sex hormones.

Some people who contract the coronavirus may suffer long-term effects such as lung scarring and complications from strokes, embolisms, and blood clotting.

Researchers are advising diners to take air circulation into account when eating at restaurants.

Vaccines and treatments

Adaptive randomized controlled trials could be adopted to speed vaccine development. Multiple vaccine candidates could be tested against a common control group.

Controversies are arising regarding the data showing side effects of hydroxychloroquine; the data used in a prominent study, from a company called Surgisphere, could not be independently viewed or verified. Publications and data from Surgisphere previously resulted in the WHO halting trials on the use of hydroxychloroquine for those with Covid-19.

The blood from recovered Covid-19 patients is becoming a hot commodity, because it is essential to developing and selling an antibody test. The use of antibodies against Covid-19 is currently undergoing clinical trials for safety and efficacy.

Policy interventions

Located in Atlanta, the Centers for Disease Control is charged with protecting the nation against public health threats. Given its record and resources, the agency might have become the undisputed leader in the global fight against the virus. Instead, the CDC made missteps that impeded America’s response.

Governments, banks, companies and multinational organizations raised $151.5 billion globally by May 31 selling Covid-19 bonds, which is debt earmarked for work linked to the pandemic. The bonds are being used to fund the development of vaccines or treatments, to bolster health care systems, or fight the pandemic.