BlackRock Covid Tracker

  • Markets have started the new year on a jittery note, with worries centering on Fed rate rises and policy normalization. We urged investors to stay invested through COVID-related volatility as we believed the strain would ultimately only delay the powerful restart of economic activity that has underpinned a surge in corporate profits. More clarity on Omicron in the past weeks has strengthened our conviction, even as the COVID surge may look frightening. Why?

    Markets have started the new year on a jittery note, with worries centering on Fed rate rises and policy normalization. We urged investors to stay invested through COVID-related volatility as we believed the strain would ultimately only delay the powerful restart of economic activity that has underpinned a surge in corporate profits. More clarity on Omicron in the past weeks has strengthened our conviction, even as the COVID surge may look frightening. Why? 

    First, vaccines and prior infections have proven effective against severe disease even as their efficacy against Omicron infection has fallen. Second, scientific studies are suggesting Omicron is intrinsically somewhat less severe than previous strains. Third, populations have gained higher immunity as more people have caught COVID or received boosters. All this suggests a surge in cases but a more muted rise in hospitalizations. We view the situation in the recent Omicron hot spot of London  as a harbinger of things to come: case loads spiraled upward to almost double the previous peak in early 2021, yet hospital admissions have remained 50% below the earlier highwater mark. The caveat: Outcomes will likely be worse elsewhere as the UK sports high vaccination, booster and immunity rates. And pressure on hospitals and services in general is set to mount as they already face staff shortages.

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Virus heatmap

Our heatmap helps put the weekly trends of the past six months in context across countries in the MSCI World index, with the chart below providing more historical data.

New confirmed covid-19 deaths per million people (7-day average)

Deaths per million: 0 2.5 5 20+
Sources: BlackRock Investment Institute, with data from Our World in Data. .
Notes: The heatmap shows the 7-day average of new confirmed covid-19 cases and deaths by week since April. The levels within the key are based around the levels governments have typically started to introduce measures to combat the spread of the virus. Countries are sorted by population size within each region.

Positive test rates and hospitalization levels

We are focused on hospitalizations because we believe that is a cleaner comparison with the initial wave of infections and is what drives policymakers to adopt restrictions on activity and mobility to prevent hospitals and intensive-care units from being overwhelmed. That’s clear with the latest set of restrictions imposed in Europe. See the chart on hospitalizations below. We see 400-600 hospital patients per million as a threshold that tends to trigger more stringent measures on activity.
Source: Our World in Data, .
Notes: The share of COVID-19 tests that are positive, given as a rolling 7-day average. Positive rates can be less up-to-date than the confirmed cases shown in the heat map. Chart shows latest available.
According to criteria published by WHO in May, a positive rate of less than 5% is one indicator that the epidemic is under control in a country. Click on legend to hide country.
Sources: The COVID tracking project, Our World in Data, UK government, .
Notes: Due to different definitions of which cases are counted as covid patients, data levels may not be comparable across countries. Click on legend to hide country.

Regional trends

This section shows regional aggregate trends based on MSCI equity market regional classifications.
Source: BlackRock Investment Institute, Our World in Data, .
Notes: New confirmed covid-19 cases per million people (7-day average). Europe based on the countries that are included in the MSCI Europe equity index.
Source: BlackRock Investment Institute, Our World in Data, .
Notes: New confirmed covid-19 deaths per million people (7-day average). Europe based on the countries that are included in the MSCI Europe equity index.
Source: BlackRock Investment Institute, Our World in Data, .
Notes: New confirmed daily covid-19 cases (7-day average, thousands). Click on legend to hide country.
Source: BlackRock Investment Institute, Our World in Data, .
Notes: New confirmed covid-19 deaths (7-day average). Click on legend to hide country.
 
 

The charts seen here are some of the ones we are tracking the most closely to see how the interplay between the virus, restrictions, mobility and activity evolve.

Google mobility trends

Location based Google data showing the difference in activity from pre-virus baseline

Sources: BlackRock Investment Institute, with data from Google, .
Notes: Google location data based on the average of the retail and recreation, workplace and transit categories, 7-day rolling average. Euro area based on average of Germany, France and Italy. The mobility measure compares the change compared to before the pandemic outbreak (the baseline). Baseline days represent a pre-pandemic value for each day of the week, this is based on median mobility value over the five‑week period from January 3rd to February 6th 2020. On the bar chart, the bars show the current mobility level, the orange dots show the value of the mobility measure two-weeks ago.

Macroeconomic data

Sources: BlackRock Investment Institute, with data from U.S. Census Bureau, FRB, BEA, BLS, Eurostat and ECB, .
Notes: The chart shows the trough in activity since February 2020 (orange dot) and the latest value (green dot), with all values rebased to 100 at February 2020. December 2019 is used as the baseline for China industrial production and January 2020 for Taiwan.
 
 

Vaccinations

The availability of highly effective vaccines is a gamechanger, setting the scene for a reaccelerated restart later in 2021. The charts below track the progress of vaccinations across countries.

Share of population fully vaccinated

Chart showing vaccination progress

Vaccine booster progress

Chart showing vaccination progress
Source: BlackRock Investment Institute, Our World in Data. .
Notes: This charts above show the number of COVID-19 vaccination doses administered per 100 people within a given population. The top chart compares the number of people who have received at least one dose with the number fully vaccinated (usually two doses are required). Values do not include participants in the vaccine arm of clinical trials.
 
 

Country comparison table

Click table headers to sort by selected column

Country Virus metrics Activity Population background
New cases per million New deaths per million Positive test rate (%) New tests per 1,000 Total deaths per million Google mobility vs. pre-covid (%) Google mobility 2-week change (% points) Government response stringency (100 = strictest) Population median age Population density
Sources: BlackRock Investment Institute, with data from Refinitiv Datastream, Google, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, Our World in Data. .
Notes: Countries without data for a series in the last 10-days are not shown. Google mobility: Google location data based on the average of the retail and recreation, workplace and transit categories, 7-day rolling average. Euro area based on average of Germany, France and Italy. Government Response Stringency Index: Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker - composite measure based on 9 response indicators including school closures, workplace closures, and travel bans, rescaled to a value from 0 to 100 (100 = strictest response). Positive rate: The share of COVID-19 tests that are positive, given as a rolling 7-day average. Rates can be stale, so only countries with values in the last 10-days are shown.New cases per million: Confirmed cases per million, 7-day average. New tests New tests for COVID-19, 7-day average. Median age: Median age of population based on UN projection for 2020. Population density: Number of people divided by land area, measured in square kilometers, most recent year available.