The world has surpassed three million COVID-19 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker, a shocking toll that comes amid new warning signs even as vaccinations progress, The Hill writes. Both cases and deaths have been rising globally in recent weeks, prompting warnings from the World Health Organization.
“It is growing exponentially,” WHO technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove said of cases on a global basis on Monday. “This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic where we have proven control measures,” she added. “It is time right now where everyone has to take stock and have a reality check about what we need to be doing.”
The United States has by far the most deaths of any country, with over 566,000, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. Brazil is next with more than 368,000 deaths, followed by Mexico with over 211,000 and India with around 175,000.
Brazil has been a source of particular concern in recent weeks amid a spike fueled by a more contagious variant known as P.1. It is now recording about 3,000 deaths per day, according to data compiled by Our World In Data. India has also provoked concern as its cases trend upwards in a country of over a billion people.
The world as a whole is recording about 12,000 deaths per day, according to Our World in Data figures.
The ongoing vaccination campaign does offer hope of a light at the end of the tunnel. Deaths in the United States have been falling as the country vaccinates about three million people every day. But many lower-income countries have vaccinated only a small percentage of their population.
A group of Democratic senators wrote to President Biden on Thursday calling on him to support a waiver for vaccine patents at the World Trade Organization.
The group, led by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), argued that continued spread of the virus anywhere also poses a threat to the United States through the potential for new, potentially vaccine-resistant variants of the virus to develop.
“Emerging COVID-19 variants show more resistance to vaccines and are more infectious,” they wrote. “They spotlight why time is of the essence: further delay in developing immunity around the world will only lead to faster and stronger mutations.”
WHO officials called on countries to not rely solely on vaccinations, and maintain other precautions until vaccinations are more widespread.
“Physical distancing works,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday. “Masks work. Hand hygiene works. Ventilation works. Surveillance, testing, contact tracing, isolation, supportive quarantine and compassionate care — they all work to stop infections and save lives.”