According to official counts, more people have died from Covid-19 this year than in all of 2020, highlighting how the global pandemic is far from over, even as vaccines are successfully combating the virus in wealthy nations.
According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data collected by Johns Hopkins University, it took less than six months for the world to record more than 1.88 million Covid-19 deaths this year. On Thursday, the university’s death toll for 2021 edged just ahead of the 2020 death toll. As President Biden and the leaders of the other Group of Seven advanced economies prepare to meet in England to discuss next steps in the pandemic response, these figures highlight a widening gap between developed and developing countries.
While Western nations such as the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom celebrate low caseloads and declining deaths as a result of mass vaccination campaigns, the intensified pandemic in parts of Asia and Latin America has increased global deaths.
His country is experiencing its longest and most severe wave yet, with well over 500 people dying from Covid-19 every day on average. The government has imposed new restrictions that are among the most stringent in South America, such as the closure of commerce and restrictions on drivers, as well as the suspension of classes and religious ceremonies.
The figures compiled by Johns Hopkins reflect official counts of Covid-19 deaths from countries around the world, totaling a global tally that recently surpassed 3.7 million. According to disease experts, the true toll of Covid-19 cases and deaths is likely to be much higher due to a patchy recording of cases and deaths.
The good news is that the global seven-day average for newly reported deaths has been trending lower in recent weeks. However, the average is still at historically high levels, having only recently dropped below 10,000 deaths per day, a level not reached until late last year. Over a two-week period beginning in late January, nations around the world averaged more than 14,000 deaths per day.
The current Covid-19 burden represents a reversal for both rich and poor countries. As the virus roared back during the fall and winter, Europe and North America accounted for 73% of daily cases and 72% of daily deaths at the turn of the year. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of figures compiled by the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data project, South America, Asia, and Africa now account for more than 80% of daily cases and three-quarters of daily deaths.
The global divide has been widened by vastly different vaccination rates. According to Our World in Data, only 2% of Africans and slightly more than 6% of Asians have received at least one dose of vaccine. This compares to 22% in South America, more than 40% in the European Union, and more than half in the United States. According to the World Health Organization, Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has yet to receive a single vaccine.
When world leaders meet in Cornwall, in southwestern England, on Friday, they will discuss how to respond to the pandemic. The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has called on major economies to commit to vaccinating the entire world by the end of next year, but the United States and Europe appear divided on how to best extend vaccine coverage globally.
The EU is opposing a US-backed proposal to waive intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines in order to boost production, instead suggesting that countries directly subsidize vaccine manufacturing and ease export restrictions. According to people familiar with the plans, President Biden’s administration intends to donate 500 million coronavirus vaccine doses produced by Pfizer Inc. to the rest of the world.
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech SE confirmed their part of the agreement earlier Thursday, stating that 200 million doses would be distributed to other countries this year and 300 million in the first half of next year.
All of those doses will be donated through Covax, a global initiative to help vaccinate developing countries, and will be distributed to 92 low-income countries as well as the African Union.