The global death toll from coronavirus crossed 4 million on Wednesday as the crisis increasingly becomes a race between the vaccine and the highly contagious delta variant. Official sources by Johns Hopkins University compiled data that shows that the tally of lives over the past year and a half is equal to the number of people killed in battle in all of the world’s wars since 1982, according to estimates from the Peace Research Institute Oslo.
This toll is three times more than the number of people killed in traffic accidents around the world recorded every year. The toll is about equal to the population of Los Angeles or the nation of Georgia and is equivalent to more than half of Hong Kong or close to 50% of New York City.
Even then due to overlooked cases of deliberate suppression it is widely believed to be undercounted. Deaths per day have decreased to around 7,900, after topping out at over 18,000 a day in January.
But in recent weeks, the mutant delta version of the virus first identified in India has set off alarms around the world is rapidly spreading even in vaccination success stories like the U.S., Britain, and Israel.
In fact, Britain has recorded more than 30,000 new infections for the first time since January in one day total this week, even after the government prepares to lift all remaining lockdown restrictions in England later this month.
At the same time, other countries have again put new restrictions and preventive measures for combatting the virus. The authorities are rushing to step up the campaign to dispense shots. Along with that, the disaster has shown the gap between the haves and the have-nots, with vaccination drives barely getting started in Africa and other especially the poor corners of the world because of extreme shortages of shots.
The U.S. and other wealthy countries have approved to share at least 1 billion doses with struggling countries. At over 600,000, or nearly 1 in 7 deaths the U.S. has the world’s highest reported death toll, followed by Brazil at more than 520,000, though the real numbers are believed to be much higher in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right government has long downplayed the virus.
The variants, uneven access to vaccines, and the relaxation of precautions in wealthier countries are “a toxic combination that is very dangerous,” warned Ann Lindstrand, a top immunization official at the World Health Organization. Instead of treating the crisis as a “me-and-myself-and-my-country” problem, she said, “we need to get serious that this is a worldwide problem that needs worldwide solutions.”