A succinct summation of the good, the bad, and the ugly in the global pandemic news this week. This brief pandemic update is featured every week at the End of History. Click on the links for deeper dives into the stories that tell what happened this week in the historic global pandemic of our generation.
At the time of this post, the world has reported more than 240.5 million coronavirus cases over 4.9 million deaths. Russia, Ukraine, and Romania are currently leading the world with the most new cases reported in the last 24 hours. Russia, Mexico, and Romania lead the world with the most coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours. Russia broke its daily record for coronavirus deaths multiple times over the week. The national government has refused to order national lockdowns and has delegated such decisions to regional leaders.
In the face of a record-breaking surge of new cases in Russia, Russians are pushing across the border into Serbia to access western made vaccines.
Romanian doctors sent an open letter titled “Cry of Despair” as the country’s overwhelmed healthcare system faced new record-setting numbers of cases and deaths this week. Romania, which has one of Europe’s lowest vaccine rates, is experiencing a catastrophic fourth wave of the coronavirus.
Globally, deaths from the pandemic hit their lowest point in a year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said six out of seven coronavirus cases on the continent of Africa are going undetected. This confirms what many have said for the last year: Africa’s pandemic numbers are much worse than what is being reported.
The US is recording nearly 90,000 new cases per day, a decline of 40% since August. Hospitalizations and deaths nationally continued the decline this week as well. Hot spots remain in places like Alaska and Minnesota. Minnesota’s hospitals are nearing capacity, and healthcare workers are in short supply in the state where new coronavirus cases are climbing to levels not seen since the vaccine became available.
Florida’s Department of Health is investigating businesses that enforce COVID19 safety rules, such as requiring proof of vaccine. A judge has ordered New York to provide religious exemptions to its vaccine mandate. The US Navy listed its consequences for sailors who refuse vaccination.
New Zealand made vaccinations mandatory for teachers and doctors. Pfizer plans to vaccinate the entire city of Toledo, Brazil, to test the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Thousands of protesters marched in Rome on Saturday against Italy’s new coronavirus prevention efforts.
After months of opposition to vaccine boosters in wealthy countries until the rest of the world has their first doses, the WHO supported boosters for immunocompromised people this week. The FDA approved a third booster of the Moderna vaccine for older Americans and those at higher risks of severe illness from the coronavirus.
After incentives from free drinks to cash payouts failed, more countries and major cities worldwide are turning to vaccine mandates to fight the pandemic. Vaccine mandates are upending political ideologies. Texas’s Republican governor this week refused to allow private businesses to implement vaccine mandates on their employees, while the ACLU defended vaccine mandates among private companies. Both positions stand in stark contrast to historical conservative and liberal ideological positions that Governor Abbot and the ACLU traditionally represent. Large businesses like Southwest and American Airlines said they would not comply with Texas’s order barring vaccine mandates.
In more than a dozen European Union countries, some form of COVID pass is required at many indoor group gatherings. Italy boasts one of the world’s strictest workplace vaccine mandates. France began charging unvaccinated citizens for virus tests. Governments are beginning to lift these restrictions in countries like Portugal and Denmark, where vaccine rates passed 75%.
A new parliamentary report investigating the UK’s early response to the pandemic described it as one of the most critical public health failures in the country’s history. The former UK health minister who oversaw the failed response to the pandemic is now heading up Africa’s path to recovery from the pandemic on behalf of the UK. In England, a coronavirus testing lab halted work after learning it incorrectly gave negative test results to people. Some 43,000 people have been affected. According to the National Health Service, one in five critically ill patients in England is an unvaccinated pregnant woman who contracted the coronavirus.
Latvia canceled most planned hospital operations starting Monday as rising coronavirus cases, and hospital bed shortages grip the healthcare system.
Pandemic Headlines from Around the World This Week
- Sydney Australia eased its 107-day lockdown after New South Wales reached a 70% vaccination rate.
- The country of Singapore has an 83% vaccination rate but plans to keep its borders closed for the time being.
- Zimbabwe will bar unvaccinated workers from their workplaces without pay.
- As Brazil passed 600,000 coronavirus deaths (among the highest in the world), President Jair Bolsonaro told reporters he did not want to be bored with questions regarding the country’s death toll.
- Puerto Rico lifted its pandemic curfew and ban on alcohol sales following drastic reductions in new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
- The US reopened overland borders with Mexico and Canada for vaccinated tourists.
- India reopened for tourists.
- The WHO said nations of the Caribbean are still struggling with unequal distribution of the vaccines and vaccine hesitancy.