MEXICO CITY (AP) – The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 2 million Friday, crossing the threshold amid a vaccine rollout, but so uneven that some countries have real hope of ending the outbreak, while In other, less-developed parts of the world, it seems a distant dream.
The shocking figure reached a year after the first detection of coronovirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The number of dead compiled by Johns Hopkins University is equal to the population of Brussels, Mecca, Minsk or Vienna. This is equivalent to the Cleveland metropolitan area or the entire state of Nebraska.
“There has been a terrible amount of death,” Dr. Said Ashish Jha, an expert and dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health. He also said, “Our scientific community has also done extraordinary work.”
In wealthy countries, including the United States, Britain, Israel, Canada, and Germany, millions of citizens have already been given some measure of safety with at least one dose of the vaccine developed at a revolutionary pace and quickly authorized to use has been done.
But elsewhere, vaccination drives have barely gotten off the ground. Many experts are predicting another year of loss and hardship in places such as Iran, India, Mexico and Brazil, which account for about a quarter of the world’s deaths.
“As a country, as a society, as citizens, which we have not understood”, mourned an Israeli Gomez, a Mexico City paramedic who took off by ambulance to close nearby COVID-19 patients After spending months together, they were searching for empty hospital beds. “We have not understood that this is not a game, that it actually exists.”
Mexico, a country of 130 million people, has received just 500,000 doses of the vaccine and barely half of them are in the hands of health care workers.
This is the exact opposite of the situation for its wealthy northern neighbor. Despite initial delays, hundreds of thousands of people are rolling up their sleeves every day in the United States, where the virus has killed nearly 390,000 people at the highest toll of any country.
All told, according to the University of Oxford, more than 35 million doses of various COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide.
While vaccination drives in wealthy countries have been made by long lines, inadequate budgets and a rash of state and local attitudes, the odds are far greater in poorer nations with weak health systems, transport networks collapsing, corruption and a lack of vaccines. Reliable power for adequate cooling.
In addition, most of the world’s COVID-19 vaccine doses have already been snatched by rich countries. COVAX, a UN-backed project to supply shots to developing parts of the world, has found itself short of vaccines, funding and logistic support.
As a result, the World Health Organization chief scientist warned that it is very unlikely that herd immunity – which would require at least 70% of the globe this year – would be achieved this year. As the disaster has demonstrated, this is not enough to sniff out the virus in some places.
Dr. Saumya Swaminathan said, “Even though it may be in the pocket in some countries, it is not for the protection of people worldwide.”
Health experts also fear that if the shots are not widely and rapidly distributed, it could give the virus time to mute the vaccine and lose – “my nightmare scenario”, as Jha put it .
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the 2 million milestone “has been made worse by the absence of a global coordinated effort.” He said: “Science has been successful, but solidarity has failed.”
Meanwhile, in Wuhan, where the disease was detected in late 2019, a global team of researchers led by WHO arrived on Thursday on a politically sensitive mission to investigate the origins of the virus, which is believed to be It has spread from wild animals to humans.
The Chinese city of 11 million people is stirring again, with some signs that it was once the epicenter of the catastrophe, closed for 76 days, leaving more than 3,800 dead.
“We’re not as scared or worried as we were in the past,” said noodle shop owner Qin Qing. “Now we live a normal life. I take the metro every day to work in the shop. … except our customers, who have to wear masks, everything else remains the same. “
It took eight months to die 1 million but it took less than four months to reach the next four million.
While the death toll is based on data supplied by government agencies around the world, the actual number of lives lost for the part is believed to be significantly higher due to insufficient testing, and has been wrongly attributed to many causes, Outbreaks especially in a hurry.
Infectious disease specialist Dr from the University of Exeter, UK. India Pakhania said, “What was never on the horizon would be among the richest countries in the world.” “The richest countries in the world will do so badly mismanagement, it is only shocking.”
In rich and poor countries alike, the crisis has devastated economies, thrown them out of multidisciplinary work and many drowned in poverty.
In Europe, where more than a quarter of the world’s deaths have occurred, strict lockdown and curfew have been imposed to retake the virus’s resurgence, and a new version is believed to be roaming the UK and other countries. , As well as the U.S.
Even in some of the wealthiest countries, the vaccination campaign has been slower than expected. With the second largest economy in Europe and more than 69,000 known virus deaths, France will need months, months, to vaccinate its 53 million adults until it rapidly speeds up its rollout. Due to scarcity, red tape and considerable skepticism. Vaccines.
Nevertheless, in places like Posey, a blue-collar city west of Paris, the first shots of the Pfizer formula were met with relief and a feeling that there is light at the end of the epidemic tunnel.
“We have been living inside for almost a year. This is not life, ”Maurice Lachkar, a retired 78-year-old acupuncturist who was placed on the priority list for vaccinations due to his diabetes and his age. “If I catch the virus, I’m done.”
Maurice and his wife, Nicole, who were also vaccinated, said they could allow themselves to be hugged along with their children and four grandchildren, whom they had socialized only once or twice since the epidemic. Seen from a safe distance.
“It’s going to be free,” he said.
Across the developing world, the images are strikingly similar: rows and rows of graves are being dug, hospitals pushed to the limits and medical staff dying for lack of protective gear.
In Peru, which has the highest COVID-19 fatality rate in Latin America, hundreds of health care workers went on strike this week to demand better pay and working conditions in a country where 230 doctors have died of the disease . In Brazil, authorities in the largest city of the Amazon rainforest planned to move hundreds of patients due to dwindling supplies of oxygen tanks, resulting in some people dying at home.
In Honduras, the anesthesiologist Drs. Caesar Umana is treating 25 patients in their homes by phone because hospitals lack capacity and equipment.
“It’s complete chaos,” he said.
Cheng reported from Toronto, Leicester from Posey, France, and Goodman from Miami. Associated Press writers Victoria Milko in Jakarta, Indonesia, and David Biller in Rio de Janeiro, along with AP video journalist Sam McNeil in Wuhan, China, contributed to this report.