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 246.5 million coronavirus cases and nearly 5 million deaths. The WHO recorded an 18% increase in new cases in Europe over the last week. It is the only region in the world where new cases are growing.
The WHO warned that healthcare workers around the globe are at a breaking point. More than 115,000 healthcare workers died from the coronavirus between January 2020 and May 2021. Healthcare workers face higher risks of death to the pandemic, but now anxiety and burnout are taking an increasingly severe toll.
The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board released a new report stating there is little evidence to suggest the world cannot end the current pandemic or prevent the next pandemic.
COVID cases in eastern Europe surpassed 20 million.
Russia continued to report new record highs for case counts and deaths throughout the country as the pandemic surged there. Daily death totals above 1,000 became common in Russia during the last two weeks and are now 30% higher than totals reported at the end of September. Infection rates rose by nearly 70% in the last month. Approximately one-third of Russia’s population has been vaccinated. For the next 11 days, Russia will go into lockdown with Vladimir Putin ordering citizens to stay home from work to combat the coronavirus pandemic surge. Ukraine closed schools in high transmission areas of the country. While the country has ample supply, only 16% of Ukrainians are fully vaccinated. Ukraine broke its own record for coronavirus deaths in 24 hours on several days this week.
The virus is surging in countries where less than half the population has received a vaccination. In Romania, only 35% of the country is fully vaccinated, compared to 74% in the European Union. Authorities there approved a return to tighter restrictions this week. Bulgaria reported its highest number of new cases in a 24-hour period since the pandemic began on Tuesday.
New daily case counts in Germany increased 57% in the last two weeks, while deaths increased 11% during that same period. New infections in the Czech Republic soared to the highest levels in more than six months.
England removed the last seven countries from its restricted-travel red list. The country is experiencing a new long surge in the pandemic, initially driven by infections among children. Hospitalizations in England are at the highest level since March.
New cases in the US have fallen 60% since the September surge. New COVID cases continued falling in every region of the US this week, but at least 1,500 Americans died from the virus every day in the last week. The virus remains the leading cause of death among older Americans.
Ohio recorded more deaths than births in 2020 for the first time in that state’s history.
The US House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released a report that stated infections and deaths at five of the country’s largest meatpacking conglomerates were three times higher than initially reported during the first months of the pandemic. While many stayed home during that period of the coronavirus, workers at meat plants were considered essential workers and paid a higher price than many realized.
The CDC said more Americans are getting vaccine boosters now than their first vaccine shots. Last week, a daily average of 340,000 Americans received vaccine boosters, while 157,000 received their first vaccine shot daily. The reported figures represent the most unambiguous indication yet of America’s vaccine gap.
Pfizer and BioNTech reported their vaccine is 91% effective in children ages 5 to 11. Citing that the COVID19 was the eighth highest killer of children ages 5-11 in the last year, the Food and Drug Administration in the US recommended authorizing vaccines for children in that age group.
A new study from Kaiser Permanente found that out of 10 million people, a lower death rate persisted among vaccinated individuals than unvaccinated individuals. Mortality risks in the study were not exclusive to the coronavirus.
Merck announced a licensing deal to share the drug molnupiravir cheaply with 105 developing countries. The promising pill could be a game-changer for many nations still struggling to gain access to vaccines. Scientists and engineers in South Africa are working to reverse engineer and duplicate the Modern vaccine. They are doing it with the WHO’s approval to increase vaccine availability across the African continent. The African Union secured an agreement to purchase 110 million doses of the Moderna vaccine that will be delivered in the coming months.
A new study of the AstraZeneca vaccine found a slightly higher risk of a neurological syndrome.
In Germany’s parliament, wristbands now reveal a person’s vaccination status. Apple has allowed users to add vaccine cards to the Apple Wallet.
Pandemic Headlines from Around the World This Week
- The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned that urgent help is needed in Papua New Guinea to prevent a massive loss of life in the face of a pandemic surge on the island in the coming weeks.
- Singapore announced it would require vaccinations or daily tasks for people working throughout the country starting in January.
- One-third of the refugees and asylum seekers held in a Melbourne immigration detention center tested positive for the virus.
- China locked down a city of more than 4 million people after 39 new coronavirus cases were identified there in the last week.
- New Zealand plans to expand its vaccine mandate to cover 40% of the country’s workers.
- Uganda will open the nation’s schools in January after being closed since March 2020.
- Japan has experienced a significant decline in new coronavirus cases. At the peak of that country’s pandemic, Japan reported 20,000 new cases a day. This week they recorded around 300 cases a day. Seventy percent of Japan’s eligible population is fully vaccinated.
- Vietnam began vaccinating children ages 12-17.