Cases of Covid-19 continue to rise as the more contagious Delta variant leads to spikes in infections and hospitalizations across the globe.
Last week, more than 4 million new cases were reported worldwide, according to UN News. Overall, the virus has infected roughly 203 million people and killed 4.3 million since the pandemic began, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
This comes as just 15% of the global population has been fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data. While nearly 4.5 billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered worldwide, only 1.1% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.
In Africa, Covid-19 deaths surged by 80% in the last month, most likely due to the current wave of Delta variant infections, as reported by CNN. The World Health Organization said that last week Tunisia had the world’s worst official death toll from Covid-19, with ICUs and ERs at capacity across the country. However, on Sunday, the country opened its vaccination eligibility to anyone over 40 years of age and inoculated half a million people in one day. Tunisia hopes to vaccinate half of its population by mid-October, according to France24.
In Southeast Asia, countries continue to grapple with the worst wave of Covid yet. Countries that contained the virus last year, such as Vietnam, are now running out of oxygen and hospital beds. Protests have broken out in Malaysia and Thailand due to economic hardship, and Myanmar is near total collapse under the double crisis of covid and a military coup, as reported by CNN.
Cases are rising again in some parts of India, as experts warn of a third wave later this month. According to the National Herald, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka have all had a steady increase in cases over the past week.
In Indonesia, health systems are strained with oxygen and bed shortages. In response, Indonesian doctors have launched a free WhatsApp consultancy service for Covid-19 patients isolating at home. The program has helped patients stay at home and only seek hospital care when urgently needed, according to Al Jazeera.
With the exception of Chile, Latin America is once again becoming a global hotspot for Covid as the Delta variant takes hold. Peru is battling several coronavirus variants at once. Colombia is facing the longest wave of Covid so far, with ICUs at 95% capacity. Across Latin America and the Caribbean, nearly 1.4 million people have been killed by Covid-19, while vaccines ordered through the COVAX program have yet to arrive, according to DW.
At the same time, Latin America is experiencing a surge in political volatility as Covid has exacerbated many of the region’s economic vulnerabilities. Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, and Guatemala have all seen major demonstrations in the streets, as reported by The Guardian.
In the U.S., southern states are experiencing a surge in cases, with many hospitals at or near capacity. Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of Texas are reporting some of the highest case rates in the country, according to the New York Times. Florida continues to break record numbers of daily new cases, with 23,903 news cases reported last Friday – the state’s highest single-day count for the sixth day in a row, according to NBC News. For the first time since last February, the United States is averaging more than 100,000 new cases a day.
Direct Relief’s Response
Since the pandemic began last year, Direct Relief has delivered more than 43,100 medical aid shipments totaling more than $2.5 billion (wholesale) and containing more than 2 million Covid-19 vaccine doses and 5,500 tons of PPE and other medical resources to health facilities in 56 US states and territories and 107 countries.