COVID-19 Pandemic

Global COVID-19 death toll surpasses 5 million

Published : November 02, 2021 16:47 IST

A doctor in Brazil attends to a patent in an intensive care ward. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/AA/picture alliance

The grim milestone was reached as several countries attempt to curb the spread of the highly infectious delta variant.

More than 5 million people across the world have died after being infected with COVID, the latest tally by Johns Hopkins University showed on November 1. The grim milestone was reached as several countries attempt to curb the spread of the highly infectious delta variant. While it took just over a year for the death toll to hit 2.5 million at the start of the pandemic, the next 2.5 million deaths have been recorded over the past eight months.

Worst-affected countries

More than half the COVID deaths reported were in the United States, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and India combined. The U.S. has recorded close to 46 million infections and nearly 750,000 virus-linked deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 66 per cent of Americans have been fully vaccinated. However, vaccine hesitancy and misinformation on COVID vaccines remain a problem preventing pockets of the population from taking a vaccine.

Russia is currently battling an upsurge in the number of COVID cases. Less than 35% of the country's population has been vaccinated. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently slammed vaccine hesitancy among Russians, saying that "there are just two options for everyone: to get sick, or receive a vaccine."

South America has accounted for 21 per cent of all reported deaths, the highest percentage as a region, with Brazil the worst-affected country. India, on the other hand, has seen a significant decline in deaths over the last few months, attributed in part to the country's inoculation campaign. After a deadly surge in Spring 2021, protracted by a stumbling start to vaccinations, India has now administered over 1 billion vaccines.

Coronavirus nearly two years later

In January 2020, Chinese scientists had identified a previously unknown pneumonia infection, which had killed a surprisingly high number of people in the city of Wuhan. This virus was new but had many similarities to a coronavirus named SARS-CoV-1, which was responsible for the SARS outbreak between 2002-2004 that killed over 700 people.

Even though the number of cases was low compared to the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, it demonstrated at the time how frighteningly quickly a highly infectious disease can spread. Since SARS-CoV-2 became known to the world in early 2020, nearly 250 million people worldwide have been infected with it.

Vaccine inequity endangers progress

With vaccines being looked at as the main strategy to stem the spread of the coronavirus, nearly 7 billion doses have been administered globally. However, the delta variant of the virus has exposed the wide disparities in vaccination rates between rich and poor nations.

On one hand, some Western countries are facing an increase in vaccine hesitancy. On the other, developing countries lack doses to offer even one shot to their eligible population. Several rich nations have offered booster shots even as more than half of the world is yet to receive at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.

see/wmr (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)