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The worldwide death toll from COVID-19 eclipsed 4 million on Wednesday as the crisis increasingly becomes a race between the vaccine and the highly contagious delta variant.
The tally of lives lost over the past year and a half, as compiled from official sources by Johns Hopkins University, is roughly equal to the number of people killed in action in all wars around the world. since 1982, according to estimates from the Peace Research Institute in Oslo.
The toll is three times the number of people killed in traffic accidents worldwide each year. That’s roughly equal to the population of Los Angeles or the nation of Georgia. That’s the equivalent of more than half of Hong Kong or almost 50% of New York City.
Even then, it is widely believed that this is an undercoverage due to overlooked cases or willful concealment.
With the advent of the vaccine, the number of deaths per day dropped to around 7,900, after peaking at over 18,000 per day in January.
But in recent weeks, the mutant delta version of the virus first identified in India has raised alarms around the world, spreading rapidly even in vaccination success stories like the United States, Britain and Israel.
Britain, in fact, recorded a day-long total of over 30,000 new infections this week for the first time since January, even as the government prepares to lift all remaining lockdown restrictions in England over late this month.
Other countries have reimposed preventive measures and the authorities are rushing to step up the vaccine distribution campaign.
At the same time, the disaster exposed the divide between the haves and have-nots, with vaccination campaigns just starting in Africa and other desperately poor corners of the world due to an extreme shortage of vaccines.
The United States and other wealthy countries have agreed to share at least 1 billion doses with struggling countries.
The United States has the highest death toll in the world, with more than 600,000, or nearly one in 7 deaths, followed by Brazil with more than 520,000, although the actual numbers are much higher in Brazil , where the far-right government of President Jair Bolsonaro has long downplayed the importance of the virus.
Variants, unequal access to vaccines and relaxed precautions in richer countries are “a very dangerous toxic combination,” warned Ann Lindstrand, senior immunization official at the World Health Organization.
Instead of treating the crisis as a ‘me and me and my country’ problem, she said, “we need to take seriously that it is a global problem that requires solutions. global ”.