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 US is in the middle of yet another surge in new cases driven by the delta variant, but globally the number of new cases appears to be hitting a plateau. Hospitalizations in the US hit 100,000 in the US this week for the first time since January. A new forecasting model out of the University of Texas says US coronavirus deaths could climb another 100,000 by the end of the year.
Globally the total confirmed coronavirus cases reached a cumulative 215 million today and nearly 5 million deaths.
Rising Number in the US
Along with surging hospitalizations, the US is reporting an average 1,000 new coronavirus deaths per day.
One in four intensive care unit (ICU) beds across the country are now full with coronavirus patients. Mississippi, which has the highest per capita coronavirus new case rate in the country, is also experiencing a nursing shortage. The state’s hospital association reported 2,000 fewer registered nurses this month than at the beginning of the year. Thousands of worn-out nurses across the country have taken early retirement or moved to less stressful positions as a fourth wave of the pandemic hits US hospitals. Hawaii’s hospitals are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.
The US has more unvaccinated seniors than other wealthy countries, which has lead to higher risks and concerns within the delta outbreak.
Florida and Oregon are now experiencing a pandemic worse than any point since the pandemic began, including the past winter surge. New cases and hospitalizations are at peak numbers in Oregon, fueled by counties where less than one-third of citizens are vaccinated. Florida is reporting more than 23,000 cases per day, a 30% increase over its prior peak in January. Hospitalizations in Florida have nearly tripled in the last month. Orlando’s mayor asked cities to conserve water usage to reduce a strain on the city’s liquid oxygen supply.
Inequity in Africa
The continent of Africa reported 248,000 new coronavirus cases in the last week. The delta variant is driving a surge in 28 countries o the continent. While vaccinations administered in Africa nearly tripled this week compared to last, only 2.4% of the continent has been fully vaccinated. Critics contend the global community is demonstrating a great moral lapse in extending vaccine boosters in wealthy nations while so many Africans have still not received their first dose.
Concerning Surge in India
India’s health minister announced the country is trying to vaccinate all teachers before schools resume next month. Meanwhile, two states are seeing new surges and driving reports of 40,000 new cases per day in India over the last two days. The national government has requested night curfews in Kerala and Maharashtra to help turn back the surge. A large harvest festival recently held in Kerala is the suspected driver of the new wave in cases. India reached a new vaccination milestone vaccinating half of its eligible population this week.
On the Vaccine Front
The Food and Drug Administration finally approved the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine this week for people age 16 and up. Use of the vaccine since December 2020 was achieved through a temporary emergency approval before this week. The long-awaited move by the FDA triggered a surge of vaccine mandates throughout federal, state, and local governments, including the Pentagon, New York City, and others. Several large corporations also added themselves to the list of vaccine mandates for their employees, including Chevron and United Airlines. The US Secretary of Defense announced mandatory vaccines for enlisted service members would begin immediately. Delta Airlines said employees who refused to get vaccinated would face an additional $200 charge per month for health insurance premiums.
Johnson & Johnson said a second dose of its one-shot vaccine increased antibodies by nine times. China announced unvaccinated people who caused new outbreaks in the country would be “held accountable.”
To address global vaccine inequity, the WHO plans to begin the production of vaccines in Latin America.
Pandemic Headlines from Around the World This Week
- Family members are opting for cardboard coffins to handle the surge of coronavirus deaths in Sri Lanka.
- Indonesia has begun reducing restrictions as new case counts in the country begin to drop.
- Myanmar announced the government’s plan to administer vaccines to the persecuted Rohingya population.
- Pakistan crossed the 25,000 coronavirus death total this week.
- The largest public hospital in the Philippines closed its emergency room doors to patients on Tuesday as the hospital was overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.
- Greece ended free coronavirus testing for unvaccinated people to induce its citizens to vaccinate.
- In Vietnam, the military was deployed to enforce a strict lockdown and stop panic buying in Ho Chi Minh City.
- In Malaysia, dead bodies have been stored in refrigerated containers as morgues have been overwhelmed.
- Last week New Zealand reported its first locally transmitted coronavirus case in months. That number grew to 350 this week. Authorities say battling the delta variant is like combatting a whole new virus.
- Facing a new surge of coronavirus hospitalizations, Hawaii’s governor asked tourists to stay away.
- Tokyo’s healthcare system is strained by a new surge of cases in Japan, so the city opened oxygen stations for patients with mild symptoms. Japan extended its state of emergency to eight more prefectures. The nation suspended 1.63 million Moderna doses after contamination concerns.
- Zimbabwe began administering vaccines to children over age 14.
- A month ago, Israel boasted one of the world’s fastest vaccination campaigns. This week the nation’s new case numbers climbed back to the peak levels of January. The latest surge, even among the vaccinated, is driven by the delta variant. Israel is using a third booster shot of the vaccine to combat delta.
- The CDC added six countries to its list of high-risk countries Americans should not travel to due to a surge in new coronavirus cases this week. The countries included: Haiti, Kosovo, Lebanon, Morocco, the Bahamas, and St. Martin in the Caribbean