The United States is on the verge of half a million COVID-19 deaths, more coronavirus-related deaths than anywhere else, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
U.S. President Joe Biden will talk about the lives lost to the virus Monday evening at the White House, followed by a moment of silence and a candle lighting ceremony.
“People decades from now are going to be talking about this as a terribly historic milestone in the history of this country, to have these many people to have died from a respiratory-borne infection,” Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert said Sunday on CNN.
To commemorate the dismal sum, the New York Times dedicated prime space on Sunday’s front page with a graphic containing nearly 500,000 dots, representing each individual in the U.S. who has succumbed to the deadly virus.
The U.S. is also the global leader for COVID-19 cases with more than 28 million infections.
It was one year ago that Italy became the first country outside of Asia to confirm locally transmitted coronavirus infections.
Pope Francis and Italian President Sergio Mattarella marked the anniversary Sunday by establishing the National Day of Health Care Personnel, an annual day to honor doctors, nurses and other medical providers.
Elsewhere in Europe, the rollout of vaccination campaigns in a number of European Union countries is being stymied by what public health officials say is misinformation about the safety and efficacy of the AstraZeneca shot.
Germany’s Spiegel magazine reported last week that figures from the country’s Robert Koch Institute showed that of the 736,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses sent to Germany, only 64,869 have been used.
Meanwhile, many people in the European Union, including health care workers, are refusing the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, citing concerns about the shot’s efficacy and safety. Public health officials say the concerns are unfounded, but the misinformation continues, affecting the vaccination rate in a number of countries.
According to a report in The Telegraph, Britian, which is using the Astra Zeneca vaccine, is on track with its inoculations with 23.9% of its population receiving the first dose. The newspaper account says only 3.2% of the EU population has received a dose.
Solidarity, cooperation key, UN Says
“The virus has thrived because poverty, discrimination, the destruction of our natural environment and other human rights failures have created enormous fragilities in our societies,” Antonio Guterres, the U.N. secretary-general, wrote in an essay published Monday in The Guardian. “An effective response to the pandemic must be based on solidarity and cooperation. Divisive approaches, authoritarianism and nationalism make no sense against a global threat.”
The CEO of the Serum Institute of India has warned “countries and governments” in a post on Twitter that they may not receive their coronavirus vaccines in a timely manner because the company “has been directed to prioritize the huge needs of India and along with that balance the needs of the rest of the world. We are trying our best.”
India has more than 11 million coronavirus cases, according to Hopkins.
In Tanzania Sunday, John Magufuli, the country’s president, acknowledged that the East African nation was battling a coronavirus outbreak.
Tanzania had stopped reporting virus case and death numbers last spring, when 500 cases and 20 deaths had been recorded. The president had claimed the nation was “coronavirus-free” and stated falsely that the virus had been defeated by prayer.
The country is now seeing the deaths of some government officials, including Seif Sharif Hamad, known as Maalim Seif, who died last week at the age of 77. The popular vice president of semi-autonomous Zanzibar had COVID-19, his political party said earlier.
On Saturday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization chief, called the denial in Tanzania “very concerning.” The WHO chief again urged the country to start reporting coronavirus cases and share its data.
“A number of Tanzanians traveling to neighboring countries and beyond have tested positive for COVID-19,” the WHO director-general said in a statement. “This underscores the need for Tanzania to take robust action both to safeguard their own people and protect populations in these countries and beyond.”
On Sunday, Magufuli encouraged Tanzanians to wear face masks, but only ones made in-country. Magufuli has repeatedly expressed concern about foreign-made goods, including vaccines.
Hopkins reported early Monday that there are more than 111 million global COVID infections and nearly 2.5 million global deaths.