My girlfriend, Laura, is unbelievably good at gift-giving. Like, really, world-class every time, for everyone. But this year, she went above and beyond in her gift for me: she made the COVID-19 Data Dispatch into a book!
Here’s my list of the 21 best COVID-19 data stories of 2021. Disclaimer: this list is not comprehensive or objective—I selected these stories from my own readings of national and local outlets, combined with a couple of reader submissions. Still, I tried to include a variety of publications and story types, ranging from short news pieces to large investigative projects.
The majority of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are now caused by Omicron, and a massive surge is underway. But there’s good news: the variant continues to appear less likely to cause severe disease than past coronavirus strains, and South Africa’s wave may have already peaked.
Last week, the Omicron surge had clearly arrived; this week, it’s picking up steam. Nationwide, the U.S. reported well over one million new cases this week—more than a 40% increase from last week. 244,000 cases were reported on Thursday alone, and the daily new case average is now higher than at any point during the Delta surge.
It can take weeks for a COVID-19 test sample to go from a patient’s nose to a nationwide sequencing database, which leads to inevitable lags in the U.S.’s genomic surveillance—and means that public data sources fail to convey the variant’s rapid spread.
In late December last year, I shared a list of news stories and projects that I considered the 20 best COVID-19 data stories of 2020. This year, I’m planning to compile a similar list, and I need your help to pick these stories.
In January, COVAX set a goal that many global health advocates considered modest: delivering 2.3 billion vaccine doses to low- and middle-income countries by the end of 2021. is saying it’ll deliver just 800 million vaccine doses by the end of 2021, according to the Washington Post, and only about 600 million had been delivered by early December.
WWe keep learning about this dangerous variant as it spreads through the U.S. and the world. A few major updates from this week include Omicron’s enormous potential for transmission and the U.S.’s lack of preparedness.