The world’s known coronavirus death toll passed four million on July, 8, 2021, a loss roughly equivalent to the population of Los Angeles, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
At least four million lives have now been lost to Covid-19, but the devastating milestone has yet to spur richer governments and companies into immediate action.
In total, three countries account for more than a third of all global deaths.
The United States, which has the highest number of fatalities at 606,000, accounts for 15% of the global total, followed by Brazil and India. Americans were left exposed to mounting transmission due to the inept response of the prior administration but significant strides have been made since President Joe Biden took charge in January.
The grim milestone, announced Wednesday, comes as new cases and deaths are dropping in the US and Europe, where significant numbers of residents have been vaccinated. But some developing countries, such as Indonesia, are still facing surging outbreaks, as authorities struggle to secure enough vaccines to protect citizens.
The Delta variant, a more transmissible and possibly more dangerous strain of coronavirus, is also contributing to an increase in cases in some countries and regions.
In the US, the Delta variant makes up more than half of all new infections, according to estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
People who are fully vaccinated, can resume activities that they did prior to the pandemic but others who remain resistant to being vaccinated are potentially generating mutations that can be more deadly.
State Republican lawmakers across the United States are pushing forward bills that prohibit vaccine mandates in an attempt to give the refusal to have a Covid-19 vaccine the same sort of legal protections as those often surrounding issues of gender, religion and race.
Many Republican states are introducing bills that outlaw vaccine mandates within state offices, schools and workplaces, even though vaccine mandates are not commonplace among employers. They also come as the vaccine rollout in the US has slowed markedly, even though the more contagious Delta variant is spreading rapidly, especially among unvaccinated people.
Covid-19 vaccines are life-saving medications whose side effects are generally mild. Independent expert panels have repeatedly found the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risk of potential Covid-19 infection.
More than 185 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose. About 55% of all Americans are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the CDC.
As of July 6, 2021, 33 countries had provided at least one vaccine dose to over half of their population, according to figures published by Our World In Data.
All but three (Mongolia, Maldives and Bhutan) are high income countries. (The analysis excludes countries and territories with populations of lower than 200,000 people.)
Compared to the week of 11 January 2021, when world deaths passed 2 million, the numbers of people dying each week in these countries reduced from 51,614 to 4,015 – a reduction of 92% – according to figures collated from the World Health Organization.
Globally, 53,861 are reported to have died of COVID-19 during the week of 28 June, 1 person every 11 seconds.
“Yet, because vast swathes of the world have little or no access to vaccines, one person is still dying from Covid-19 every 11 seconds – mostly in lower-income countries. Equal access to vaccines shouldn’t be based on where you live, it’s a basic human right,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard. “With many rich countries moving towards the lifting of restrictions, the deadly impact of Covid-19 is still rife. The death toll continues unabated in Latin America, while India and Nepal have faced deadly surges, and health systems in Indonesia and Southern Africa are at risk of being overwhelmed.”
The ten countries with the highest number of deaths over the last week are Brazil, India, Colombia, Russia, Argentina, Indonesia, USA, Peru, Mexico and South Africa.
Only 0.3 percent of doses have been administered in low-income countries, according to the New York Times vaccine tracker, while 85 percent of vaccine doses have been administered in high- and upper-middle-income countries.
“Many of these countries are still facing acute vaccine shortages which can only be resolved by both urgently sharing doses and removing the barriers preventing the scale up of global production,” said Callamard. “World leaders must further support moves to lift intellectual property restrictions on life-saving products and push pharmaceutical companies to share their knowledge and technology. This is a global issue that requires urgent global action now. No one is safe, until everyone is safe.”
Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general who has accused companies including Facebook of “poisoning information” about coronavirus vaccines, said they were not doing enough to check the online proliferation of false claims.
“The reality is that misinformation is still spreading like wildfire in our country aided and abetted by technology platforms,” he said on Fox News Sunday.
“I’m worried about what is to come because we are seeing increasing cases among the unvaccinated in particular. It’s so important people have the information they need about the vaccine … it is our fastest, most effective way out of this pandemic.”
New cases of Covid-19 in the US, fueled by the highly transmissible Delta variant, have surged by 70% in a week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Friday, to more than 26,300 a day.
Cases were rising in 48 states and stagnant in the other two, the CDC said. Four states, California, Florida, Missouri and Texas, were responsible for 46% of the new cases, with one in five coming in Florida.