Covid claims 3 million lives as the burden falls on the poorest nations

Global Covid Death Toll Rising Faster Than Before

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Photographer: Michael Dantas / AFP / Getty Images

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The relentless pace of deaths from the global Covid-19 pandemic continues unabated despite global vaccination efforts, and is now increasingly borne by the world’s poorest regions.

More than 3 million lives have been lost as a result of the new coronavirus that emerged in 2019, with the last million recorded deaths being even faster than the first two. It took about 8.5 months after the initial death in China to score the first million, and just another 3.5 months to hit the second million.

A mourner sits next to the coffin of a Covid-19 victim at a cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil on March 24.

Photographer: Victor Moriyama / Bloomberg

The death toll topped 3 million on Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, just three months after crossing the 2 million mark on Jan.15. The shortening intervals, coupled with the growing number of new cases worldwide, are a blow to hopes that the end of the pandemic is in sight with the widespread deployment of vaccines.

The true death toll from Covid-19 is likely well over 3 million, due to insufficient and uneven reporting around the world.

This grim step underlines a growing disparity in the fight against the pandemic, which corresponds to the gap in access to vaccines. While death rates have largely slowed in the United States and parts of Europe thanks to vaccine deployments that promise a return to some semblance of normal life, the developing world – Brazil in particular – is endorsing a number growing dead.

Just five locations account for about half of the last million deaths. The United States alone accounted for 18% of the world total, still the highest country share.

But the terrain is changing. The burden of death is increasing in poorer regions of the world, including those that have difficulty accessing vaccines. Among the last million deaths, Brazil’s share rose 9.5 percentage points from the previous million deaths, followed by Mexico and Peru.

Another million

Five countries are responsible for half of the last million deaths

Source: Johns Hopkins University, data at 2 p.m. HKT on April 16

Other countries have reduced their share of the last million deaths, with India, Iran and Argentina falling the most. Developed countries, from Italy and the United States to France and Belgium, also had a lower share in the new death toll compared to the previous million.

The results underscore the need for the vaccines to be released around the world, public health officials said. About 40% of the Covid-19 vaccines administered went to people in 27 wealthy countries which represent only 11% of the world’s population, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Learn more: Vaccine pace is 2,400% faster in richest countries around the world

“There are a lot of countries where people haven’t received a single vaccination,” said Bali Pulendran, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University in California. “It is not enough to immunize everyone in one country. Unless you vaccinate the entire population, you are not going to control the pandemic. “

Inoculate Indian tax office workers as sidewalks return to check for new wave of virus
A health worker administers a dose of Bharat Biotech Ltd. vaccine. Covaxin to a government employee in New Delhi on April 12.

Immunization disparities pose a threat to the world. The more the coronavirus spreads without control, the more likely it is to develop dangerous mutations. Some existing vaccines have already been shown to be less effective against newer variants such as that from South Africa. The risk of a mutation entering a highly vaccinated country and triggering another wave of Covid cannot be ruled out.

Wrong direction

Covid infections and deaths have accelerated around the world

Source: Johns Hopkins University, based on weekly data

“Vaccines are shining light on us at the end of the tunnel, but we’re not there yet,” World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a briefing earlier this month. “We all need to continue to protect ourselves and those around us by making the right choices.

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