Saturday, April 20, 2024

“This is not a game”: two million people died from COVID-19 | News on the coronavirus pandemic

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The global death toll from COVID-19 has now passed two million.

The benchmark was reached on Friday amid a vaccine rollout so huge but so uneven that in some countries there is real hope of beating the epidemic, while in other parts of the world it seems like a dream distant.

The numbing figure was crossed just over a year after the coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The death toll, compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is roughly equal to the population of Brussels, Mecca, Minsk or Vienna.

More than 93,418,283 cases of the virus have been confirmed worldwide since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Europe is the continent where the health crisis has been the deadliest, with 650,560 deaths to date.

Latin America and the Caribbean recorded 542,410 deaths, while the United States and Canada had 407,090.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for global solidarity to fight the pandemic as he marked the “heartbreaking” milestone.

“Unfortunately, the deadly impact of the pandemic has been compounded by the lack of a coordinated global effort,” he said in a video.

In wealthy countries like the US, UK, Israel, Canada, and Germany, millions of citizens have already enjoyed some protection with at least one dose of a vaccine developed at breakthrough speed. and quickly cleared for use.

But elsewhere, vaccination campaigns have barely started. Many experts predict another year of loss and hardship in countries like Iran, India, Mexico and Brazil, which together account for around a quarter of the world’s deaths.

“As a country, as a society, as citizens, we haven’t understood,” lamented Israel Gomez, a Mexico City paramedic who spent months commuting COVID-19 patients in an ambulance. , desperately looking for vacant hospital beds.

“We didn’t understand that it’s not a game, that it really exists.”

Mexico, a country of 130 million people that has suffered severely from the virus, has received only 500,000 doses of a vaccine and has placed barely half of it in the arms of healthcare workers.

In the United States, despite early delays, hundreds of thousands of people roll up their sleeves every day, where the virus has killed an estimated 390,000 people, the highest death toll of any country.

COVAX, a UN-backed project to deliver injections to developing regions of the world, ran out of vaccines, money and logistical assistance.

As a result, the chief scientist of the World Health Organization has warned that it is highly unlikely that herd immunity – which would require at least 70% of the planet vaccinated – will be achieved this year.

Health experts also fear that if vaccines are not distributed widely enough and quickly enough, it could give the virus time to mutate.

Dr Julian Tang, of the University of Leicester, said the number was not so surprising given the circumstances.

“This is a new virus that no one has really immunity to, and we are going through the winter season where these respiratory viruses traditionally peak,” he told Al Jazeera.

“The coronavirus vaccines came pretty late so we put it all together, the winter season, the delayed vaccination, the indoor clutter that comes with the winter season, that kind of spike and mortality… it’s probably not not that surprising, ”he added. .

Meanwhile, in Wuhan, a global team of researchers led by the WHO arrived Thursday on a politically sensitive mission to investigate the origins of the virus, which is believed to have spread to humans from wild animals.

The Chinese city of 11 million is bustling again, with little sign that it was once the epicenter of the disaster, locked up for 76 days with more than 3,800 dead.

“We are not as fearful or worried as in the past,” said Qin Qiong, owner of a noodle shop.

“We are now leading a normal life. I take the metro every day to come and work in the store… except for our customers, who have to wear masks, everything else is the same.

While the death toll is based on figures provided by government agencies around the world, the actual number of lives lost is believed to be significantly higher.


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