Indonesia became the epicenter of the Asian experience with the pandemic this week when that nation surpassed India and Brazil in the daily death count. Indonesia experienced more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases per day and death counts above 1,000 per day. Healthcare workers are among the hardest hit in the country. More than 1,300 Indonesian healthcare workers have died since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. As the delta variant rips through Indonesia, the country has reported nearly 3.1 million confirmed cases and over 80,000 deaths. Experts believe those numbers are an undercount, and the actual figures are likely four times higher. The longer the surge continues in Indonesia, the more likely new variants emerge from the crisis. Prior epicenters, Brazil, UK, and the US each saw new variants of the virus develop in the aftermath of their respective pandemic surges.
The delta variant is driving a surge of new cases across the globe. Newly confirmed cases globally increased by 12% week to week. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly half a million new cases were reported each day of the week ending July 18, 2021. The coronavirus delta variant is confirmed in 124 countries now and makes up more than 80% of new cases in the US. Meanwhile, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a full course of the Pfizer vaccine resulted in an 88% effectiveness against the delta variant compared to 94% against the alpha variant.
The delta variant continued to inflict a new surge in the US as well. The director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained the US is experiencing a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” as less vaccinated areas witnessed rising new case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths. She added the US is at “another pivotal moment.” A growing concern relates to how quickly the coronavirus has mutated in the last year and a half. The longer the virus is allowed to move freely against large unvaccinated populations, the more likely it is to mutate, again and again, thus creating a potential future variant that is resistant to the vaccine. In other words, the longer large populations remain unvaccinated, the greater risk they and the virus pose to even the vaccinated. On Monday, Wall Street experienced its worst day since May on concerns of the delta variant’s spread in the country.
- Along with Indonesia, much of southeast Asia is experiencing its worst surges in the pandemic to date. This includes Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar.
- China has reported a spike in new cases on its border with Myanmar.
- A new study in India says excess deaths during COVID19 could rise above 4 million, ten times higher than the official coronavirus death totals.
- Battling its worst outbreak in the pandemic, Tunisia has turned its national pandemic response over to the military.
- Bangladesh suspended its lockdown for two weeks so citizens could celebrate the Eid Al Adha Festival. Only essential workers are allowed outdoors between now and August 5.
- The Philippines is banning travel from Thailand and Malaysia.
- In California, Los Angeles County instituted a new mask mandate, but the sheriff’s department said they do not plan to enforce it.
- More than 100,000 protested the strict new vaccination policy in France.
- Some local governments in China now require entire families to be vaccinated before children can return to school.
- Iran locked down its capital city Tehran for six days due to rising numbers. This week, the country hit new highs in daily confirmed cases, breaking records from earlier in the pandemic.
- The US announced a restriction on non-essential travel from Mexico and Canada would remain in place for another month.
- Half of Australia has returned to lockdown in the face of the delta variant.
- Italy will require proof of negative COVID19 tests for many social activities.
- The European Union pledged to double the number of vaccines it is donating to developing countries by the end of the year.
- A new study suggests unvaccinated staff could be linked to growing cases in American nursing homes.
- US life expectancy dropped by a year and a half in 2020 due to coronavirus deaths.
- An increasing number of American cities are requiring city employees and healthcare workers to be vaccinated.