RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The globaltopped a staggering 3 million people Saturday amid repeated setbacks in the worldwide vaccination campaign and a deepening crisis in places such as Brazil, India, and France. As compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the number of lives lost is about equal to Kyiv, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; or metropolitan Lisbon, Portugal. It is more significant than Chicago (2.7 million) and equivalent to Philadelphia and Dallas combined. The actual number is believed to be significantly higher because of possible government concealment and the many overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019.
In January, when the bleak threshold of 2 million deaths passed, immunization drives had just started in Europe and the United States. They are underway in more than 190 countries, though progress in controlling the virus varies widely. While the campaigns in the U.S. and Britain have hit their stride and people and businesses there are beginning to contemplate life after the pandemic, other places, mostly poorer countries but some rich ones as well, are lagging in putting shots in arms and have imposed new soar. Worldwide, again, running at around 12,000 per day on average, and new cases are climbing too, eclipsing 700,000 a day.
“This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, where we have proven control measures,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, one of the World. In Brazil, where deaths are about 3,000 per day, accounting for one-quarter of the in recent weeks, the crisis has been likened to a “raging inferno” by one WHO official. A more contagious . As , hospitals are running out of critical sedatives. As a result, some doctors have reported diluting supplies and even tying patients to their beds while breathing tubes are pushed down their throats.
Thehas crushed Brazilians’ pride in their history of carrying out colossal immunization campaigns that were the envy of the developing world. Taking cues from President Jair Bolsonaro, who has likened the virus to little more than the flu, his for months, ignoring other producers. It was too late to get large quantities in time when bottlenecks emerged. Watching so many and die alone at her Rio de Janeiro hospital impelled nurse Lidiane Melo to take desperate measures.
In the, as sufferers called out for comfort that she was too busy to provide, Melo filled two rubber gloves with warm water, knotted them shut, and sandwiched them around a patient’s hand to simulate a loving touch. Some have christened the practice the “hand of God,” and it is now the searing image of a nation roiled by a medical in sight. “Patients can’t receive visitors. Sadly, there’s no way. So it’s a way to provide psychological support and be there with the patient holding their hand,” Melo said. She added: “And this year it’s worse; the seriousness of patients is 1,000 times greater.”
This situation is similarly dire in India, wherein February after weeks of steady decline, taking authorities by surprise. In a virus variants, India saw over 180,000 new infections in one 24-hour span during the past week, bringing the total number of cases to over 13.9 million. Problems that India had overcome last year are coming back to haunt . Only 178 ventilators were accessible Wednesday afternoon in New Delhi, a city of 29 million, where 13,000 new infections were reported the .
India’s challengesit is the biggest supplier of shots to COVAX, the U.N.-sponsored program to to poorer parts of the world. Last month, exports until the virus’s spread inside the country slows. The WHO recently described the supply situation as precarious. Up to 60 countries might not receive any more shots until June, by one estimate. COVAX has delivered about 40 , enough to cover barely 0.25% of the world’s population.
Globally, about 87% of the 700 million doses dispensed have been given out in rich countries. While 1 in 4, in poor countries, the figure is 1 in more than 500. Recently, the U.S. and some European countries put the use of Johnson & Johnson’s on hold while authorities investigate extremely rare but dangerous blood clots. and restrictions because of a clotting scare. Another concern: Poorer countries rely on vaccines made by , which some scientists believe provide less protection than Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca.
Last week, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention director acknowledged that the country’s Americans filing for unemployment benefits tumbled last week to 576,000, a post-COVID-19 low.protection and that officials are considering mixing them with other shots to improve their effectiveness. In the U.S., where over 560,000 lives have been lost, accounting for more than 1 in 6 of the world’s , hospitalizations and deaths have dropped, businesses are reopening, and life is beginning to return to something approaching normalcy in several states. The number of
But progress has been patchy, and new— most notably Michigan — have flared up in recent weeks. Still, deaths in the U.S. are down to about 700 per day on average, plummeting from a mid-January peak of about 3,400. In Europe, countries feel the brunt of a more contagious variant that first ravaged Britain and has pushed the continent’s COVID-19-related beyond 1 million. Nearly 6,000 gravely ill patients are being treated in French critical care units, not seen ago.
Dr. Marc Leone, head of intensive care at the North Hospital in Marseille, said exhausted front-line staff members who were feted as heroes at the start of the pandemic now feel alone and are clinging to hope that renewed school closings and other restrictions will help curb the virus in the. “There’s exhaustion, more bad tempers. You have to tread carefully because there are a lot of conflicts,” he said. “We’ll give everything we have to get through these 15 days as best we can.”