According to Reuters, the number of Coronavirus cases worldwide surpassed 200 million on Wednesday, as the more-infectious Delta variant threatens areas with low vaccination rates and strains healthcare systems.
The global increase in cases highlights the growing disparity in immunisation rates between rich and poor countries. Cases are increasing in roughly one-third of the world’s countries, many of which have not even given the first dose to half of their population.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday called for a moratorium on COVID-19 vaccine boosters until at least 10% of the population in every country was vaccinated.
“We need an urgent reversal, from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries, to the majority going to low-income countries,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
The Delta variant is upending all assumptions about the virus and roiling economies, with disease experts scrambling to determine whether the latest version of coronavirus is making people sicker than before, particularly unvaccinated individuals.
Since the pandemic began, at least 2.6 percent of the world’s population has been infected, with the true figure likely higher due to limited testing in many places. According to Reuters, if the number of infected people were a country, it would be the eighth most populous in the world, trailing only Nigeria.
According to the analysis, it took over a year for COVID-19 cases to reach the 100 million mark, while the next 100 million were reported in just over six months. Nearly 4.4 million people have died as a result of the pandemic.
On a seven-day average, the countries reporting the most cases – the United States, Brazil, Indonesia, India, and Iran – account for roughly 38% of all global cases reported each day.
One out of every seven infections reported worldwide originates in the United States. Despite the fact that the country provides at least one vaccine shot to 70% of adults, states with low vaccination rates, such as Florida and Louisiana, are seeing record numbers of COVID patients hospitalised. The head of one Louisiana hospital warned of the “darkest days” yet.
Unvaccinated people represent nearly 97% of severe cases, according to the White House COVID-19 Response Team.
RISING CASES IN ASIA
Southeast Asian countries are also reporting an increase in cases. Despite having only 8% of the world’s population, the region reports nearly 15% of all global cases each day, according to a Reuters analysis.
Indonesia, which experienced an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases in July, is reporting the highest number of deaths on average and surpassed 100,000 total deaths on Wednesday. Every day, the country is responsible for one out of every five deaths reported worldwide. The Southeast Asian country plans to gradually reopen its economy in September, according to Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin, who noted that the wave of infections has passed its peak, with daily confirmed cases on the decline.
After suffering its worst outbreak in April-May, India is once again seeing a rising trend of cases. Last Friday, the country reported 44,230 new COVID-19 cases, the most in three weeks, fuelling worries of a third wave of infections that has forced one state to lockdown.
China’s Wuhan city, where the virus first emerged in late 2019, will test its 12 million residents for the coronavirus after confirming its first domestic cases of the Delta variant. The city had reported no local cases since mid-May last year.
The variant, discovered in India, is as contagious as chickenpox and spreads far more easily than the common cold or flu, according to the CDC in an internal document.
A key issue, according to Dr. Gregory Poland, a vaccine scientist at the Mayo Clinic, is that current vaccines prevent disease but not infection by preventing the virus from replicating in the nose.
As a result, “the vaccines we have now are not going to be the end-all, be-all,” he said. “We are now in a scenario that we have created, where it will take years to decades to defeat … And we’re going to chase our tail with variants until we get a type of vaccine that offers infection and disease-blocking capabilities.”