Several people around the world have diedso far this year than throughout last year, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. So far, 3.77 million deaths have been reported since the pandemic began – with 1.89 million reported in 2021, exceeding the 1.88 million deaths counted per capita. December 31, 2020.
While the true toll of the pandemic last year may have been far higher – in part the result of data roofs, unanswered cases and incomplete reporting – the figure serves as a stark reminder of the raging pandemic that continues to claim millions of lives around the world, despite vaccinations the worst of the spread of the disease in the United States To date, a total of nearly 600,000 deaths have been reported in the United States
Worldwide, an average of more than 9,000 deaths from COVID-1
Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are also climbing into many countries. The World Health Organization warned this week that the western Pacific, which includes Asia, had again registered its highest incidence of deaths to date.
“Increasingly, we are seeing a two-track pandemic. Many countries are still facing an extremely dangerous situation, while some of those with the highest vaccination rates are starting to talk about ending restrictions,” World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Monday.
Public health officials have repeatedly warned world leaders against easing COVID-19 restrictions prematurely in recent weeks, citing concerns over an increase in new rapidly spreading strains of the virus. The White House also raised concerns on Tuesday over recent data suggesting that vaccines were significantly less effective after a dose against the B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India. President Biden’s Chief Medical Adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, urged Americans to “make sure you get the second dose.”
Named the “Delta” variant by the World Health Organization, this mutation now appears to lead to outbreaks in several countries around the world, even in the UK, where 6 out of 10 residents have at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine . Health officials say there is evidence that being fully vaccinated still provides protection against all known variants.
In the United States, B.1.617.2 has already been seen by laboratories in 49 states. “Nowcast” projections published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that it may account for 6.1% of the circulating virus in the country.
The grim milestone also comes as President Biden announces a “historic” purchase of 500 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to donate to low- and middle-income countries and the African Union through 2022 in addition to the 80 million doses he had promised to share before June.
“It’s also in America’s self-interest. As long as the virus is raging elsewhere, there is a risk of new mutations that could threaten our people,” Biden said Thursday when announcing the purchase.
Global health officials praised President Biden’s announcement as “an important step forward” in helping to address “urgent” deficiencies in vaccine doses. The United States and other wealthy nations had for months faced growing criticism for choosing to vaccinate their own children and other low-risk residents “at the expense of health workers and high-risk groups in other countries.”
The Biden administration also recently announced that it would phase out the use of the Defense Production Act for doses it had ordered from Novavax, Sanofi and AstraZeneca, potentially freeing up unused vaccine supplies stored under wartime powers for Americans.
However, doses from the president’s Pfizer purchase are expected in early August. The first delivery will only be “on the order of 50 million,” Foreign Secretary COVID-19 coordinator Gayle Smith said Thursday.
World leaders have also called on the Food and Drug Administration to speed up its review of the vaccine components manufactured by Emergent BioSolutions for Johnson & Johnson, which remain stopped around the world as the FDA investigates potential cross-contamination of their batches.
And the United States has faced opposition to other moves that could help scale up the production of COVID-19 vaccines in other countries, as well as its support for a patent exemption that is still in talks at the World Trade Organization.
“Six months since the first vaccines were administered, high-income countries have administered almost 44% of the world’s doses. Low-income countries have administered only 0.4%,” Tedros told WHO member states on Thursday.
“The most frustrating thing about this statistic is that it hasn’t changed in months,” he added.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct the average daily death rate.