Coronavirus Deaths Reach 3 Million Worldwide

Health

The New York Times 17 April, 2021 - 10:02am 32 views

“It just never crossed your mind that there would be so many dead in so little time,” said one man in Mexico City.

Three million lives: That is roughly equivalent to losing the population of Berlin, Chicago or Taipei. The scale is so staggering that it sometimes begins to feel real only in places like graveyards.

The world’s Covid-19 death toll surpassed three million on Saturday, according to a New York Times database. More than 100,000 people have died of Covid-19 in France. The death rate is inching up in Michigan. Morgues in some Indian cities are overflowing with corpses.

And as the United States and other rich nations race to vaccinate their populations, new hot spots have emerged in parts of Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

The global pace of deaths is accelerating, too. After the coronavirus emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the pandemic claimed a million lives in nine months. It took another four months to kill its second million, and just three months to kill a million more.

“We are running out of space,” Mohammed Shamin, a gravedigger in New Delhi’s largest Muslim cemetery, said on Saturday. “If we don’t get more space, you will soon see dead bodies rotting in the streets.”

The deaths are the most tragic aspect of the pandemic, but they aren’t the only cost.

Many millions more have been sickened by the virus, some with effects that may last for years or even a lifetime. Livelihoods have been ruined. Global work and travel have been disrupted in profound and potentially long-lasting ways.

The official toll almost certainly does not account for all the pandemic-related deaths in the world. Some of those deaths may have been mistakenly attributed to other causes, like flu or pneumonia, while others have died as a result of the vast disruptions of life.

Nanthana Chobcheun, 67, who works at a wet market in the eastern Thai city of Bangsaen, said her income had fallen by half since the coronavirus emerged. But she cannot afford to stop working, she added, even as Thailand’s caseload rises.

“Young people, rich people are enjoying their nightlife, even when there’s a contagious disease, and gathering without a care in the world,” Ms. Nanthana, who has diabetes and high blood pressure, said at an open-air market on Saturday.

“For us little people, and especially old people like me, it’s different,” she added, sitting on a stool amid piles of dried fish.

Some parts of the world may be turning the corner. The United States and Britain have seen death rates drop in recent weeks as they have rolled out aggressive vaccination programs. In Israel, 56 percent of the population had been fully vaccinated as of Friday, according to a New York Times tracker.

At the same time, new outbreaks are still cropping up persistently in rich countries. That has shocked millions of people — from Madrid to Los Angeles — who once expected regular life to resume in tandem with vaccine rollouts.

In France, which is in the throes of a third national lockdown, a deep sense of fatigue and frustration has taken root over a seemingly endless cycle of coronavirus restrictions. The third lockdown has limited outdoor activities, forced nonessential shops to close, banned travel between regions and shut schools for a month.

One of the few bright spots is the vaccination campaign, which has finally gathered speed after a sluggish start over the past few months. More than 12 million people have received at least a first shot and the government expects an additional eight million to be vaccinated by mid-May, when a gradual reopening is set to begin.

Poland is struggling to find its way out of its third wave of infections, even as the wave seems to have peaked. A recent spike in Covid-19 infections and deaths is putting immense pressure on the underfunded and understaffed health care system.

With record numbers of patients on ventilators, the government announced on Wednesday that it would extend the current restrictions by one week, shattering hopes of hotel owners for reopening during the traditional May break and prompting more protests from business owners.

Japan, which lifted a state of emergency less than a month ago and plans to host the Olympics this summer, on Friday said it would tighten restrictions in Tokyo and other cities to prevent a surge of infections from snowballing into a fourth wave.

And in the United States, dangerous variants are driving new outbreaks, even though new cases, hospitalizations and deaths have declined from their January peaks. Michigan, the worst-hit state, is reporting an average of about 50 deaths a day, twice as many as two weeks ago, along with 7,800 or so new cases.

The United States and parts of Western Europe bore the brunt of deaths for the first year of the pandemic. Now, the hot spots for fatalities are in regions like Eastern Europe, South Asia and Latin America.

In Mexico, where Covid-19 has killed more than 211,000 people, only about one in 10 people in the country have received a vaccine.

“It’s so hard for a lot of us,” Ivan Mena Álvarez, a piñata maker in Mexico City who has lost 11 members of his extended family to the virus, said. “It just never crossed your mind that there would be so many dead in so little time.”

While richer countries have essentially hoarded vaccines, poorer ones are scrambling desperately for doses.

Safety worries about the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, based on a small number of people who developed problems with blood clotting, have also exacerbated vaccine hesitancy around the world — a trend that threatens to prolong the pandemic and subvert nascent vaccination drives.

Most countries are not even close to achieving herd immunity, the point where enough people are immune to the coronavirus that it can no longer spread through a population.

In India, where the death toll has surpassed 175,000, more than 114 million people had received a first dose of a Covid vaccine as of Friday. But that is only 7.4 percent of the population.

The pandemic has undone decades of economic progress in India. Now, the country of 1.3 billion people is recording an average of about 1,000 deaths a day as a huge outbreak flares in the western state of Maharashtra, which is home to Mumbai.

India reported 1,341 deaths on Saturday alone, along with nearly a quarter of a million new cases.

Swapnil Gaikwad, 28, whose uncle died on Friday in the Osmanabad district of Maharashtra, said it had taken seven hours to perform the traditional burial rites because the local crematory was so busy.

“There was absolutely no space, and more ambulances were arriving,” he said.

At one point, Mr. Gaikwad said, he became so angry that he complained to the staff.

One worker there began to cry. Mr. Gaikwad said some workers had told him that they were so busy at the crematory that they had not seen their own families for days.

Oscar Lopez and Monica Pronczuk contributed reporting.

Read full article at The New York Times

Global Covid-19 death toll passes 3 million as cases surge

CNN 17 April, 2021 - 07:06pm

Updated 7:16 AM ET, Sat April 17, 2021

CNN's Esha Mitra Contributed to this report.

Global Covid-19 death toll passes three million mark

South China Morning Post 17 April, 2021 - 07:06pm

Covid death toll nears 3 million as India cases surge

Bangkok Post 17 April, 2021 - 07:06pm

published : 17 Apr 2021 at 12:45

writer: AFP

PARIS - The global coronavirus death toll was expected to reach three million on Saturday, as the race for immunisation continues and countries like India grapple with rising infections and new lockdowns.

The virus that surfaced in late 2019 in central China and the ensuing pandemic has infected more than 100 million people, leaving billions more under crippling lockdowns and ravaging the global economy.

India's capital New Delhi went into a weekend lockdown Saturday as the world's second-most populous nation faces more than 200,000 fresh daily cases and families clamouring for drugs and hospital beds.

Hopes that South Asian countries might have seen the worst of the pandemic have been dashed, with India recording over two million new cases this month alone and Bangladesh and Pakistan imposing new shutdowns.

In Japan, rising virus cases have stoked speculation that the Olympic Games -- postponed last year due to the pandemic -- could be cancelled.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first meeting with US President Joe Biden, said his government was listening to experts and doing its "utmost" to prepare for the Tokyo games in July.

"They are doing everything possible to contain infection and to realise safe and secure games from scientific and objective perspectives," Suga told a joint news conference, at which Biden backed Japan's efforts to host the global event.

Coronavirus preparations are being made for another global sporting showcase -- the World Cup in Qatar next year.

The Gulf kingdom is in talks with coronavirus vaccine makers to ensure all fans attending the 2022 World Cup in the country have been vaccinated, its foreign minister said Friday.

The virus continues to impact events elsewhere in the world. On Saturday, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II bids a final farewell to her late husband, Prince Philip, at a funeral restricted by coronavirus and likely watched by millions from afar. The public has been asked to stay away because of the global pandemic.

- 'Cautious optimism' in Europe -

In Brazil, the country with the third-highest death toll in the world, night shifts have been added to several cemeteries as diggers work around the clock to bury the dead.

One of these is Vila Formosa, the largest cemetery in Latin America and a showcase for the lethal cost of the pandemic in Brazil, where more than 360,000 people have died from Covid-19.

Despite the high infection rate, the government of Brazil's most populous state Sao Paulo announced it will allow businesses and places of worship to reopen from Sunday.

But there was better news in Europe, where some countries are easing their lockdowns in response to not only fatigue, but falling infection numbers and progress with vaccinations.

Italy announced Friday it will ease coronavirus restrictions for schools and restaurants from April 26.

Expressing "cautious optimism", Prime Minister Mario Draghi said his government was taking a "calculated risk".

Italy will also allow up to a thousand spectators at outdoor events from May 1, when it eases its stadium fan ban in regions less affected by the coronavirus.

In more good news for Brits after the partial reopening of society this week, Germany on Friday removed the United Kingdom from the list of risk zones for coronavirus infections, meaning that travellers will no longer need to quarantine upon arrival.

The police are preparing to charge four key figures behind the political rally outside Government House on Thursday for organising a public gathering in violation of the Disease Control Act and the emergency decree, says the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB).

Khon Kaen University on Saturday denied being pressured by the police to terminate the employment contract of American academic David Streckfuss over his political activism, saying the agreement was scrapped for professional reasons.

Gen Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar's junta leader, will attend an Asean summit in Jakarta where representatives of the bloc are expected to discuss Myanmar's situation, according to Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Global COVID-19 Deaths Top 3 Million

NPR 17 April, 2021 - 01:59pm

Global deaths from COVID-19 has surpassed 3 million, according to the latest data from John Hopkins University.

Leading in those deaths are the United States, with more than 566,000, and Brazil, with more than 368,000. They are followed by Mexico, India and the United Kingdom.

The global death toll reached 1 million in September 2020 and 2 million in January.

The grim milestone comes after health officials in the U.S. paused rollout of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six women experienced rare but severe blood clots a week or two after receiving it.

In Brazil, deaths have topped 3,000 per day as the country is ravaged by the virus. Mexico has recorded more than 211,000 deaths. India has had more than 175,000 deaths and deaths in the United Kingdom have topped 127,000.

COVID-19 variants are spreading throughout the U.S., with the more contagious U.K. variant, B.1.1.7, now dominant. On Friday, the Biden administration announced plans to spend $1.7 billion on combating and tracking variants.

‘Not the situation we want:’ Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops a staggering 3 million

WJW FOX 8 News Cleveland 17 April, 2021 - 08:16am

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The global death toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering 3 million people Saturday amid repeated setbacks in the worldwide vaccination campaign and a deepening crisis in places such as Brazil, India and France.

The number of lives lost, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; or metropolitan Lisbon, Portugal. It is bigger than Chicago (2.7 million) and equivalent to Philadelphia and Dallas combined.

And the true number is believed to be significantly higher because of possible government concealment and the many cases overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019.

When the world back in January passed the bleak threshold of 2 million deaths, immunization drives had just started in Europe and the United States. Today, they are underway in more than 190 countries, though progress in bringing the virus under control varies widely.

While the campaigns in the U.S. and Britain have hit their stride and people and businesses there are beginning to contemplate life after the pandemic, other places, mostly poorer countries but some rich ones as well, are lagging behind in putting shots in arms and have imposed new lockdowns and other restrictions as virus cases soar.

Worldwide, deaths are on the rise again, running at around 12,000 per day on average, and new cases are climbing too, eclipsing 700,000 a day.

“This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, where we have proven control measures,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, one of the World Health Organization’s leaders on COVID-19.

In Brazil, where deaths are running at about 3,000 per day, accounting for one-quarter of the lives lost worldwide in recent weeks, the crisis has been likened to a “raging inferno” by one WHO official. A more contagious variant of the virus has been rampaging across the country.

As cases surge, hospitals are running out of critical sedatives. As a result, there have been reports of some doctors diluting what supplies remain and even tying patients to their beds while breathing tubes are pushed down their throats.

The slow vaccine rollout has crushed Brazilians’ pride in their own history of carrying out huge immunization campaigns that were the envy of the developing world.

Taking cues from President Jair Bolsonaro, who has likened the virus to little more than a flu, his Health Ministry for months bet big on a single vaccine, ignoring other producers. When bottlenecks emerged, it was too late to get large quantities in time.

Watching so many patients suffer and die alone at her Rio de Janeiro hospital impelled nurse Lidiane Melo to take desperate measures.

In the early days of the pandemic, as sufferers were calling out for comfort that she was too busy to provide, Melo filled two rubber gloves with warm water, knotted them shut, and sandwiched them around a patient’s hand to simulate a loving touch.

Some have christened the practice the “hand of God,” and it is now the searing image of a nation roiled by a medical emergency with no end in sight.

“Patients can’t receive visitors. Sadly, there’s no way. So it’s a way to provide psychological support, to be there together with the patient holding their hand,” Melo said. She added: “And this year it’s worse, the seriousness of patients is 1,000 times greater.”

This situation is similarly dire in India, where cases spiked in February after weeks of steady decline, taking authorities by surprise. In a surge driven by variants of the virus, India saw over 180,000 new infections in one 24-hour span during the past week, bringing the total number of cases to over 13.9 million.

Problems that India had overcome last year are coming back to haunt health officials. Only 178 ventilators were free Wednesday afternoon in New Delhi, a city of 29 million, where 13,000 new infections were reported the previous day.

The challenges facing India reverberate beyond its borders since the country is the biggest supplier of shots to COVAX, the U.N.-sponsored program to distribute vaccines to poorer parts of the world. Last month, India said it would suspend vaccine exports until the virus’s spread inside the country slows.

The WHO recently described the supply situation as precarious. Up to 60 countries might not receive any more shots until June, by one estimate. To date, COVAX has delivered about 40 million doses to more than 100 countries, enough to cover barely 0.25% of the world’s population.

Globally, about 87% of the 700 million doses dispensed have been given out in rich countries. While 1 in 4 people in wealthy nations have received a vaccine, in poor countries the figure is 1 in more than 500.

In recent days, the U.S. and some European countries put the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine on hold while authorities investigate extremely rare but dangerous blood clots. AstraZeneca’s vaccine has likewise been hit with delays and restrictions because of a clotting scare.

Another concern: Poorer countries are relying on vaccines made by China and Russia, which some scientists believe provide less protection that those by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Last week, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged the country’s vaccines offer low protection and said officials are considering mixing them with other shots to improve their effectiveness.

In the U.S., where over 560,000 lives have been lost, accounting for more than 1 in 6 of the world’s COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped, businesses are reopening, and life is beginning to return to something approaching normalcy in several states. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits tumbled last week to 576,000, a post-COVID-19 low.

But progress has been patchy, and new hot spots — most notably Michigan — have flared up in recent weeks. Still, deaths in the U.S. are down to about 700 per day on average, plummeting from a mid-January peak of about 3,400.

In Europe, countries are feeling the brunt of a more contagious variant that first ravaged Britain and has pushed the continent’s COVID-19-related death toll beyond 1 million.

Close to 6,000 gravely ill patients are being treated in French critical care units, numbers not seen since the first wave a year ago.

Dr. Marc Leone, head of intensive care at the North Hospital in Marseille, said exhausted front-line staff members who were feted as heroes at the start of the pandemic now feel alone and are clinging to hope that renewed school closings and other restrictions will help curb the virus in the coming weeks.

“There’s exhaustion, more bad tempers. You have to tread carefully because there are a lot of conflicts,” he said. “We’ll give everything we have to get through these 15 days as best we can.”

Trademark and Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) -- A restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, has closed its doors to give workers some much-needed time off.

Dirty Frank's posted earlier this week on social media that its team is getting a PTO break.

According to a press release, agents visited the following businesses on April 16 and 17:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — The Ohio Department of Health released the state’s latest coronavirus numbers Saturday afternoon.

Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops a staggering 3 million

The Associated Press 17 April, 2021 - 03:40am

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The global death toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering 3 million people Saturday amid repeated setbacks in the worldwide vaccination campaign and a deepening crisis in places such as Brazil, India and France.

The number of lives lost, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; or metropolitan Lisbon, Portugal. It is bigger than Chicago (2.7 million) and equivalent to Philadelphia and Dallas combined.

And the true number is believed to be significantly higher because of possible government concealment and the many cases overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019.

When the world back in January passed the bleak threshold of 2 million deaths, immunization drives had just started in Europe and the United States. Today, they are underway in more than 190 countries, though progress in bringing the virus under control varies widely.

While the campaigns in the U.S. and Britain have hit their stride and people and businesses there are beginning to contemplate life after the pandemic, other places, mostly poorer countries but some rich ones as well, are lagging behind in putting shots in arms and have imposed new lockdowns and other restrictions as virus cases soar.

Worldwide, deaths are on the rise again, running at around 12,000 per day on average, and new cases are climbing too, eclipsing 700,000 a day.

“This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, where we have proven control measures,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, one of the World Health Organization’s leaders on COVID-19.

In Brazil, where deaths are running at about 3,000 per day, accounting for one-quarter of the lives lost worldwide in recent weeks, the crisis has been likened to a “raging inferno” by one WHO official. A more contagious variant of the virus has been rampaging across the country.

As cases surge, hospitals are running out of critical sedatives. As a result, there have been reports of some doctors diluting what supplies remain and even tying patients to their beds while breathing tubes are pushed down their throats.

The slow vaccine rollout has crushed Brazilians’ pride in their own history of carrying out huge immunization campaigns that were the envy of the developing world.

Taking cues from President Jair Bolsonaro, who has likened the virus to little more than a flu, his Health Ministry for months bet big on a single vaccine, ignoring other producers. When bottlenecks emerged, it was too late to get large quantities in time.

Watching so many patients suffer and die alone at her Rio de Janeiro hospital impelled nurse Lidiane Melo to take desperate measures.

In the early days of the pandemic, as sufferers were calling out for comfort that she was too busy to provide, Melo filled two rubber gloves with warm water, knotted them shut, and sandwiched them around a patient’s hand to simulate a loving touch.

Some have christened the practice the “hand of God,” and it is now the searing image of a nation roiled by a medical emergency with no end in sight.

“Patients can’t receive visitors. Sadly, there’s no way. So it’s a way to provide psychological support, to be there together with the patient holding their hand,” Melo said. She added: “And this year it’s worse, the seriousness of patients is 1,000 times greater.”

This situation is similarly dire in India, where cases spiked in February after weeks of steady decline, taking authorities by surprise. In a surge driven by variants of the virus, India saw over 180,000 new infections in one 24-hour span during the past week, bringing the total number of cases to over 13.9 million.

Problems that India had overcome last year are coming back to haunt health officials. Only 178 ventilators were free Wednesday afternoon in New Delhi, a city of 29 million, where 13,000 new infections were reported the previous day.

The challenges facing India reverberate beyond its borders since the country is the biggest supplier of shots to COVAX, the U.N.-sponsored program to distribute vaccines to poorer parts of the world. Last month, India said it would suspend vaccine exports until the virus’s spread inside the country slows.

The WHO recently described the supply situation as precarious. Up to 60 countries might not receive any more shots until June, by one estimate. To date, COVAX has delivered about 40 million doses to more than 100 countries, enough to cover barely 0.25% of the world’s population.

Globally, about 87% of the 700 million doses dispensed have been given out in rich countries. While 1 in 4 people in wealthy nations have received a vaccine, in poor countries the figure is 1 in more than 500.

In recent days, the U.S. and some European countries put the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine on hold while authorities investigate extremely rare but dangerous blood clots. AstraZeneca’s vaccine has likewise been hit with delays and restrictions because of a clotting scare.

Another concern: Poorer countries are relying on vaccines made by China and Russia, which some scientists believe provide less protection than those made by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Last week, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged the country’s vaccines offer low protection and said officials are considering mixing them with other shots to improve their effectiveness.

In the U.S., where over 560,000 lives have been lost, accounting for more than 1 in 6 of the world’s COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped, businesses are reopening, and life is beginning to return to something approaching normalcy in several states. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits tumbled last week to 576,000, a post-COVID-19 low.

But progress has been patchy, and new hot spots — most notably Michigan — have flared up in recent weeks. Still, deaths in the U.S. are down to about 700 per day on average, plummeting from a mid-January peak of about 3,400.

In Europe, countries are feeling the brunt of a more contagious variant that first ravaged Britain and has pushed the continent’s COVID-19-related death toll beyond 1 million.

Close to 6,000 gravely ill patients are being treated in French critical care units, numbers not seen since the first wave a year ago.

Dr. Marc Leone, head of intensive care at the North Hospital in Marseille, said exhausted front-line staff members who were feted as heroes at the start of the pandemic now feel alone and are clinging to hope that renewed school closings and other restrictions will help curb the virus in the coming weeks.

“There’s exhaustion, more bad tempers. You have to tread carefully because there are a lot of conflicts,” he said. “We’ll give everything we have to get through these 15 days as best we can.”

Goodman reported from Miami and Cheng reported from London. AP Writers John Leicester in Paris and Aniruddha Ghosal in New Delhi contributed to this report.

Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops 3 million

KSL.com 17 April, 2021 - 12:00am

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The global death toll from the coronavirus topped 3 million people Saturday amid repeated setbacks in the worldwide vaccination campaign and a deepening crisis in places such as Brazil, India and France.

The number of lives lost, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; or metropolitan Lisbon, Portugal. It is bigger than Chicago (2.7 million) and equivalent to Philadelphia and Dallas combined.

And the true number is believed to be significantly higher because of possible government concealment and the many cases overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019.

When the world back in January passed the bleak threshold of 2 million deaths, immunization drives had just started in Europe and the United States. Today, they are underway in more than 190 countries, though progress in bringing the virus under control varies widely.

While the campaigns in the U.S. and Britain have hit their stride and people and businesses there are beginning to contemplate life after the pandemic, other places, mostly poorer countries but some rich ones as well, are lagging behind in putting shots in arms and have imposed new lockdowns and other restrictions as virus cases soar.

Worldwide, deaths are on the rise again, running at around 12,000 per day on average, and new cases are climbing too, eclipsing 700,000 a day.

"This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, where we have proven control measures," said Maria Van Kerkhove, one of the World Health Organization's leaders on COVID-19.

In Brazil, where deaths are running at about 3,000 per day, accounting for one-quarter of the lives lost worldwide in recent weeks, the crisis has been likened to a "raging inferno" by one WHO official. A more contagious variant of the virus has been rampaging across the country.

The slow vaccine rollout has crushed Brazilians' pride in their own history of carrying out huge immunization campaigns that were the envy of the developing world.

Taking cues from President Jair Bolsonaro, who has likened the virus to little more than a flu, his Health Ministry for months bet big on a single vaccine, ignoring other producers. When bottlenecks emerged, it was too late to get large quantities in time.

Watching so many patients suffer and die alone at her Rio de Janeiro hospital impelled nurse Lidiane Melo to take desperate measures.

Some have christened the practice the "hand of God," and it is now the searing image of a nation roiled by a medical emergency with no end in sight.

"Patients can't receive visitors. Sadly, there's no way. So it's a way to provide psychological support, to be there together with the patient holding their hand," Melo said. She added: "And this year it's worse, the seriousness of patients is 1,000 times greater."

This situation is similarly dire in India, where cases spiked in February after weeks of steady decline, taking authorities by surprise. In a surge driven by variants of the virus, India saw over 180,000 new infections in one 24-hour span during the past week, bringing the total number of cases to over 13.9 million.

Problems that India had overcome last year are coming back to haunt health officials. Only 178 ventilators were free Wednesday afternoon in New Delhi, a city of 29 million, where 13,000 new infections were reported the previous day.

The challenges facing India reverberate beyond its borders since the country is the biggest supplier of shots to COVAX, the U.N.-sponsored program to distribute vaccines to poorer parts of the world. Last month, India said it would suspend vaccine exports until the virus's spread inside the country slows.

The WHO recently described the supply situation as precarious. Up to 60 countries might not receive any more shots until June, by one estimate. To date, COVAX has delivered about 40 million doses to more than 100 countries, enough to cover barely 0.25% of the world's population.

Globally, about 87% of the 700 million doses dispensed have been given out in rich countries. While 1 in 4 people in wealthy nations have received a vaccine, in poor countries the figure is 1 in more than 500.

In recent days, the U.S. and some European countries put the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine on hold while authorities investigate extremely rare but dangerous blood clots. AstraZeneca's vaccine has likewise been hit with delays and restrictions because of a clotting scare.

Another concern: Poorer countries are relying on vaccines made by China and Russia, which some scientists believe provide less protection than those made by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Last week, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged the country's vaccines offer low protection and said officials are considering mixing them with other shots to improve their effectiveness.

In the U.S., where over 560,000 lives have been lost, accounting for more than 1 in 6 of the world's COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped, businesses are reopening, and life is beginning to return to something approaching normalcy in several states. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits tumbled last week to 576,000, a post-COVID-19 low.

But progress has been patchy, and new hot spots — most notably Michigan — have flared up in recent weeks. Still, deaths in the U.S. are down to about 700 per day on average, plummeting from a mid-January peak of about 3,400.

In Europe, countries are feeling the brunt of a more contagious variant that first ravaged Britain and has pushed the continent's COVID-19-related death toll beyond 1 million.

Close to 6,000 gravely ill patients are being treated in French critical care units, numbers not seen since the first wave a year ago.

Dr. Marc Leone, head of intensive care at the North Hospital in Marseille, said exhausted front-line staff members who were feted as heroes at the start of the pandemic now feel alone and are clinging to hope that renewed school closings and other restrictions will help curb the virus in the coming weeks.

"There's exhaustion, more bad tempers. You have to tread carefully because there are a lot of conflicts," he said. "We'll give everything we have to get through these 15 days as best we can."

Goodman reported from Miami and Cheng reported from London. AP Writers John Leicester in Paris and Aniruddha Ghosal in New Delhi contributed to this report.

The global death toll from Covid-19 is nearing 3 million.

The New York Times 16 April, 2021 - 04:54pm

The world’s Covid-19 death toll is approaching yet another once unthinkable number — nearly three million people have died from the virus since the first cases surfaced more than 14 months ago and upended life for people across the globe.

The global death toll stands at 2,990,993, while the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has surged to nearly 140 million, according to a New York Times database, as countries race to provide enough vaccines to slow the relentless pace of infections.

The pace of deaths has been accelerating. The world did not record one million deaths until Sept. 28, but had recorded two million less than four months later, by Jan. 15 (not Feb. 21, as an earlier version of this report said). And the latest million took just three months.

The United States, Brazil and Mexico lead the world in Covid-19 deaths.

In the United States, more than 564,800 virus-related deaths have been confirmed, about one in 567 people — the most of any other country.

In Latin America, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Argentina and others have been hit hard by the virus.

Mexico has recorded more than 211,000 deaths. By comparison, Japan, which has a similar sized population, has had just 9,507 deaths.

In Brazil, where the spread of the virus has been fueled by a highly contagious variant, political infighting and distrust of science, more than 365,000 people have died. The virus is still pummeling the country, which is averaging over 2,900 deaths per day.

The leaders of both countries, which are the region’s two largest nations, have largely dismissed the dangers and have resisted calls for a lockdown.

India, the country with the fourth-highest number of total coronavirus deaths, has recorded more than 174,300 deaths. The virus is surging there once again, prompting more shutdowns and another mass migration away from big cities.

In the United Kingdom — where Britain recently ended one of the longest and most stringent lockdowns in the world — more than 127,100 deaths have been recorded. And in Italy, once the nightmarish epicenter of the virus, there have been almost 116,000 confirmed deaths.

Sweden, where officials have taken a more lax approach to combating the coronavirus, has experienced an increase in new cases and deaths recently, with more than 13,700 deaths.

As dangerous virus variants spread, many developed countries are racing to vaccinate their populations as fast as possible. More than 841 million vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, though some countries have yet to report a single dose, according to a New York Times database that tracks the worldwide rollout of shots.

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