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.
The world’s confirmed coronavirus case count reached 200 million on Wednesday. Experts note that number remains a significant undercount as many nations still lack the tools needed to properly report cases of the virus. Meanwhile, the numbers continue to surge throughout the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported an 80% average increase in coronavirus cases in five of the global organization’s six regions in the past month. The delta variant is fueling that jump. The world is recording 500,000 new cases daily, compared to 800,000 three months ago.
South Asia – Epicenter of the Pandemic
Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, surpassed 100,000 total coronavirus deaths on Wednesday as the island nation remains the epicenter of the pandemic. It took 14 months for Indonesia to exceed the 50,000 death mark at the end of May and just over nine weeks to double that. Since the beginning of June, at least 2,800 people died in self-isolation in their homes after being turned away from hospitals that did not have room for them. More than 1,200 health care workers have died on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus. Nearly half of these were doctors. Social workers around the country are reporting an increase in orphaned children as the pandemic lays claim to both parents.
As hospitals in Bangladesh reach full capacity under the recent surge of the coronavirus, demand for oxygen has exceeded supply. Thailand recorded more than 20,000 new cases and 188 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday. Bother numbers were new records for the country since the start of the pandemic. Malaysia, once a role model for its handling of the pandemic, is now being wrecked by the delta variant. Malaysia’s daily per capita death count has now surpassed that India’s peak. At the end of July, Malaysia’s daily cases per million people stood at 515.9, and its daily deaths per million were at 4.95
Youth More Susceptible
Many young Americans have been hesitant to get vaccinated as the mortality rates clearly showed the coronavirus to be a greater risk for older people. That is no longer the case. Across the country, doctors are sounding alarms that young people are experiencing severe sickness faster than before. Young people with heightened risk factors such as obesity or diabetes are particularly susceptible. As of Sunday, more than 80 percent of Americans ages 65 to 74 were fully vaccinated, compared with fewer than half of those ages 18 to 39.
China announced a vaccination campaign aimed at students ages 12-17 to combat the spread of the delta variant. Germany will also begin to offer vaccines to students over age 12. Britain announced it would extend its vaccine distributions to 16 and 17-year-old teenagers.
United States – Week in the Pandemic News
The US reported 100,000 new cases in a 24 hour period at the end of last week. Numbers like that have not been seen in the US since February. US coronavirus deaths have increased by 33% and hospitalizations by 46% in the last week. The good news is the US vaccination rates are up for the past three weeks. The US vaccination rate has increased 73% for first vaccination doses. The delta variant now accounts for 93% of all US cases.
Florida set a record for coronavirus hospitalizations at the beginning of the week. On Sunday, the state had more than 10,000 coronavirus hospitalizations. The prior record in Florida was set well before the vaccinations were available. Hawaii saw a 103% increase in new cases this week compared to last. Louisiana is now the country’s hot spot with the higher per capita rate of infection this week. According to the White House, seven states with the lowest vaccination rates account for half of the nation’s new cases in the last week: Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.
A survey of data available from ten states found that nearly 1 million doses of the vaccine have gone to waste since the vaccine became available in December. This waste is occurring even while other parts of the world beg for more vaccines.
Vaccines This Week
The head of the WHO asked developed countries to temporarily halt the pursuit of vaccine boosters. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that the goal now should be getting vaccines to the whole world and not increasing the effectiveness of those vaccines in the wealthier parts of the world. He added that richer countries have administered about 100 doses of coronavirus vaccines for every 100 people on average. In contrast, low-income countries — with lower vaccine supplies — have provided only about 1.5 doses per 100 people. France and Germany announced their intention to proceed with vaccine boosters this year despite the statement from the WHO leader.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it should complete its approval process for the Pfizer vaccine by the beginning of September. The vaccine has currently been administered throughout the US by emergency authorization since the end of 2020. Many cities and government entities say they are waiting on full FDA approval before making the vaccine mandatory. A wave of businesses across the US issued vaccine mandates to their employees over the last week.
Makers of the Moderna vaccine said the vaccine remains 93% effective after six months of usage. Pfizer BioNTech reported 91% effectiveness after six months of use. Pfizer and Moderna both raised the price charged for their vaccine to the European Union. The US has paused funding for the Novavax vaccine.
Pakistan says the country has secured enough vaccines to inoculate the entire country by the end of the year. The problem has been getting Pakistanis to take the vaccine. After threatening to turn off cell phone service for people who did not vaccinate, the country hit 1 million vaccinations per day this week.
China is experiencing its worst outbreak of coronavirus in months, thanks to the delta variant. China reported 328 cases in July, nearly equal to the total of all confirmed cases in China between February and June. Almost 300 of those cases were in the last ten days of July. Multiple provinces in the southern part of the country are now imposing new restrictions to prevent further spread of the virus. China announced the entire population of Wuhan, 11 million people, would receive a coronavirus test to combat the pandemic’s latest surge in the city where it all began.
Around the World
- Iran saw its highest number of new cases in a single day with 37,000 confirmed reports Monday.
- Brazil’s 7 day rolling average of coronavirus-related deaths dipped below 1,000 per day for the first time since January.
- For the third week in a row, thousands took to the streets to protest in France regarding the government’s health pass law. The new law, if fully ratified, will require proof of a negative test or a vaccine for entrance into many social events.
- Hundreds protested in Germany regarding the government’s restrictions, despite rules against large gatherings. Meanwhile, legislators are considering charging unvaccinated Germans for their coronavirus tests.
- Melbourne, Australia, the country’s second-largest city, went into its sixth pandemic lockdown on Thursday.
- Israel added 18 more countries, including the US, to its quarantine list.
- Japan is extending emergency restrictions to eight more prefectures to fight a surge in the virus. Healthcare experts in the country say the virus is spreading in Japan at unprecedented speed. On Thursday, Tokyo reported more than 5,000 new cases of coronavirus, double the previous single-day record set in the city nine days earlier.
- The Biden administration plans to require all foreign travelers to the US to be vaccinated.