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in 192 countries and regions
have been reported worldwide
have been reported in the U.S.
have been reported in the U.S.
Even as 177 million people have received a first shot of vaccine in the U.S. and states and countries work to re-open, COVI9-19 rolls on, infecting millions of people globally and killing hundreds of thousands. Although over 53% of the total U.S. population has received at least the first dose of vaccine, the rate of vaccine hesitancy in some areas along with issues of ease of access to vaccination sites/appointments casts doubt on the possibility of achieving overall “herd immunity”, an important goal in controlling and stopping the spread of the virus. The approval of vaccines for adolescents, however, is another important sign of progress.
As the global infection rate has declined in some countries, it has exploded in others. An added threat has appeared in the form of variants of the virus which has contributed to record numbers of new cases globally with new hot spots emerging. This highly contagious virus kills some and spares others, presenting symptoms that are unprecedented and unpredictable. More than fifteen months into the pandemic, masking, handwashing and social distancing continue to be important in combating the relentless advance of COVID-19. And while the CDC has announced that mask-wearing is no longer necessary for those who are fully vaccinated (currently 45% of population), it is more important then ever for those who are not vaccinated to stay vigilant, continue to observe basic safety measures and get vaccinated in the race against the new variants which are often proving to be more contagious and severe.
India, Brazil, France and Turkey follow the U.S. as the countries leading in infection rates with the European Union coming out of a third wave. The infection rate in India has exploded overwhelming the health system as a second wave creates a record daily number of infections, now accounting for about one-third of all new global cases. (Learn more about the India crisis.) Elsewhere in the world, countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America are seeing alarming increases in infection rates and deaths as new and more virulent variants appear and spread. As the U.S. and other countries in the West emerge from the pandemic, countries with limited access to vaccines are facing new threats from COVID-19.
The re-opening of schools and other efforts to resume normal activities present new challenges to local authorities. The U.S. has averaged approximately 12,000 new infections every day in the past week, continuing a decline according to the CDC COVID data tracker. Although the death toll has slowed and the country is emerging from the Pandemic, it still records nearly 300 deaths per day and has now reached a grim milestone of 600,000 lives lost to the pandemic.
With three successfully tested vaccines receiving emergency approval from the FDA in the U.S. and with more in development, the rate of vaccination continues to accelerate, even as delays, pauses and adjustments occur. It is a complex and lengthy process but progress is evident as more people become eligible. There are currently thirteen COVID-19 vaccines authorized and being administered across the world. There can be no doubt, however, that the wearing of masks, proper hand washing and social distancing remain critical weapons against infection for those who have not received the vaccine. Even with the relaxation of mask wearing for the fully vaccinated, safety measures remain a matter of critical community responsibility. The science is clear. They work. Continuing the 3 steps of prevention and getting vaccinated at the earliest opportunity are both necessary to stop COVID-19.
To learn more the global story of the pandemic, open the ” Trusted Resources” below and view COVID-19 Updates. Read the COVID-19 2020 report on our global work during the Pandemic.
The pandemic has proven especially lethal in predominantly Black and other neighborhoods of color that face systemic inequality including lack of access to quality health care. According to the COVID Racial Data Tracker, COVID has had a particularly deadly impact on Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other people of color with Black people dying at twice the rate of white people. Authorities also are seeing significant disparities in vaccination rates from zip code to zip code within communities, often reflecting economic and social inequities in those same populations. As it attacks poor communities in the U.S. and globally, it also exhibits catastrophic growth in countries with large concentrations of urban poverty or with the most fragile health systems. In both rich and poor countries, the virus exposes and exploits every weak point in the health infrastructure. Where you live may determine whether you live or die.
Health inequity retains its deadly potential in communities of color with poor health care access as vaccine distribution lags dangerously behind better-resourced neighbors. And that is why the COVAX pillar of access is critical as the only global effort to ensure that people in all corners of the world will get access to COVID-19 vaccines when they are available, regardless of their wealth. It remains a challenge, however, as many under-resourced countries still have made little progress with vaccinations. The global pandemic is far from over as many countries struggle to vaccinate sufficient numbers of people to slow the spread. The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought new attention to the health equity crisis on a national and global scale.
Video of one of our health workers in Colombia teaching a very young fellow proper hand-washing skills