A succinct summation of what happened around the world in the pandemic this week.
The global coronavirus death total crossed 4 million this week. Most experts believe that is still a drastic undercount as many poorer nations are not able to account for the cause of excess deaths yet. It took nine months for the virus to claim one million lives, and the pace has quickened since then. The second million were lost in three and a half months, the third in three months, and the fourth in about two and a half months.
The delta variant has now spread to more than 100 countries. Delta is now the dominant strain in the US. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned today that the spread of the delta variant could derail the global economic recovery. In spite of the economic chaos, the Economist reports the number of millionaires rose last year by 5.2 million to over 56 million. The richest 1% increased their share of the world’s wealth to 45%.
The continent of Africa is now experiencing its worst pandemic in history. During the week ending July 4, more than a quarter-million new COVID-19 cases were recorded across the continent, a 20% increase from the prior week and a 12% jump from the continent’s previous peak in January. Sixteen African countries are now seeing a resurgence of the coronavirus. The Delta strain has been detected in 10 of those countries. South Africa is the worst hit country in Africa as that country confronts the Delta variant. Last week end South Africa recorded more than 26,000 cases over the weekend. The Delta variant is driving increases in hospitalizations and deaths across the continent.
Only 1% of the population of Africa has received a vaccination. As many citizens in the developed world refuse to get vaccinations, leaders in Africa and South America are begging the world to provide vaccinations to the global south.
Medical experts are keeping watch on another variant, Lambda, that has now spread to 29 countries around the world. Peru, which has one of the highest pandemic death rates in the world has seen a high rate of the lambda variant there. Chile has tracked lambda in more than 31% of coronavirus samples tested to date.
Pandemic Highlights From Around the World
- Tunisia’s health ministry announced on Thursday that the country’s health system has collapsed. The country of 12 million people has more than 465,000 confirmed cases and 15,000 deaths. Those numbers have skyrocketed in recent weeks. Some bodies of the dead in hospitals are left unattended for more than 24 hours in Tunisia’s capital as medical personnel is overwhelmed with caring for the still living. Only 4% of the population has received vaccinations.
- In Namibia, with a population of 2.5 million people, more than 1,000 new cases per day were reported this week.
- Indonesia has seen its daily new caseload more than quadrupled in the last month. The healthcare system there is running out of oxygen and hospitals are turning people away. On Monday the country reported more than 29,000 new cases in a 24 hour period.
- In Myanmar, following the recent coup, the military authorities now leading the country appear too distracted suppressing protests to the coup to worry about pandemic numbers rising at an alarming rate. More than a quarter of those testing for the coronavirus in Myanmar are confirming a positive diagnosis.
- This week Bangladesh recorded its highest surge in new coronavirus cases since March. As the delta variant spreads there, officials are worried that the medical system will soon run out of oxygen.
- South Korea reported a record 1,316 new coronavirus cases on Friday, prompting the country to tighten curbs in Seoul to the highest level.
- Russia recorded its highest single day new case total since January with nearly 25,000 new cases per day.
- Brazil registered the highest number of deaths and lowest number of births in the January-to-June period since comparable data was first compiled in 2003.
- In Iran, where the government has refused western-based vaccines, thousands of frustrated citizens are traveling to Armenia for vaccinations.
- Japan has declared a state of emergency in Tokyo as its highest rates of infections since May have been confirmed. The state of emergency coincides with the Olympics in Japan.
- Undocumented immigrants across the world present a dangerous “invisible population” that does not have access to the vaccine even in countries that possess the supply. Policies in countries from the US to Europe, along with fear and distrust among immigrants are delaying and depriving this vulnerable population of vaccines and protection from the coronavirus.
- Pfizer and BioNTech announced the company is developing a vaccine aimed a the Delta variant.
- Germany pledged to donate its unwanted AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to developing countries.
- France advised its citizens not to vacation in Spain or Portugal because of recent increases in cases there.
- The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) released new and controversial guidance to schools regarding the fall semester. The CDC is encouraging schools to fully reopen, despite the spread of the delta variant.