Brief Update on COVID-19 as of 25 December 2023

As the world continues to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, updated data as of December 2023 highlights key developments in case statistics, variants, and vaccine responses.

COVID-19 Current Statistics (as of December 2023) [1]

Global Case Trends:

A significant increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases has been observed globally, with a 52% uptick during the period of 20 November to 17 December 2023, bringing the total to over 850,000 new cases. In contrast, there has been an 8% decrease in new deaths, with over 3,000 new fatalities reported in the same timeframe. The total tally as of 17 December 2023 stands at over 772 million confirmed cases and nearly seven million deaths worldwide. Additionally, there has been an increase in hospitalizations and ICU admissions, with over 118,000 and 1,600 respective increases, denoting a 23% and 51% rise amongst reporting countries during the stated periods.

Variant Update:

The virus continues to mutate, leading to new variants of interest. JN.1, a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.2.86, has been designated as a variant of interest due to its rapid increase in prevalence, alongside EG.5 which remains the most reported VOI globally. These designations are crucial for public health monitoring and response strategies.

Current Variants and Their Severity [2]

Variants of Concern (VOC): As of 15 December 2023, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reports that there are currently no SARS-CoV-2 variants that meet the criteria to be classified as a variant of concern. This categorization is dynamic and subject to change as new data emerges.

Variants of Interest (VOI): Several VOIs are under surveillance due to mutations that might affect virus characteristics like transmissibility and immune escape. The Omicron sub-lineages, including BA.2.75, XBB.1.5-like, and BA.2.86, are among those being closely watched. While there is no concrete evidence indicating a severe increase in disease severity or transmission rate for these variants, the situation is closely monitored, with updates provided as new data becomes available.

Vaccine Availability and Efficacy [3]

Vaccine Updates:

For the fall/winter season of 2023-24, health authorities have rolled out updated COVID-19 vaccines targeting the XBB.1.5 variant. These are recommended for everyone aged 6 months and above. The vaccines, including those produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Novavax, are tailored to the specific age groups and health considerations of individuals. They are monovalent, focusing on the XBB.1.5 variant, which has been prevalent.

Effectiveness and Coverage

The updated vaccines are formulated to combat the most common circulating variants. Cross-reactivity of antibodies to XBB.1.5 with other variants like EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 has been seen, giving a wide range of protection, even though these variants are not exact matches to the vaccine strain. The vaccines are accessible free of cost for most Americans through various health insurance schemes and the Bridge Access Program for uninsured or underinsured individuals. The optimal time for vaccination is suggested to be by mid-October, aligning with the onset of cooler weather and indoor activities, which typically lead to increased virus transmission.


In conclusion, the current situation as of late 2023 underscores a continued rise in global COVID-19 cases, with a particular focus on monitoring the emergence and impact of new variants. The public health response is adapting with updated vaccines designed to offer protection against prevalent strains. The ongoing efforts to understand and mitigate the virus’s impact through surveillance, vaccination, and public health guidance underscore the dynamic nature of the pandemic and the global commitment to combating it. This comprehensive approach remains crucial for protecting public health and ensuring a coordinated response to the evolving challenges presented by COVID-19.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of a healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *