The progression is mind-boggling. The world crossed 300 million known coronavirus cases last Thursday, according to a study by the Johns Hopkins University. The number must seem to be still more staggering as only 60 per cent of the global populace has received one dose of the vaccine; a fairly sizable percentage still remains unvaccinated, whatever the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, might say.
The speed of the spread is direly astonishing. It took more than a year for the world to record the first 100 million cases, and half that time to count the next 100 million. The third 100 million have come even faster ~ in barely five months. Large segments of countries remain unvaccinated and the Omicron variant is reported to have infected even those who have received the jab. Case-counts are a benchmark not only for governments that are expected to implement the mitigation measures, but also for people who are trying to assess the threat to their own communities.
The report that 300 million cases have been surpassed comes in parallel to the prognosis of experts that it is time to stop focusing on case numbers. The virus is spreading; more and more people are being afflicted or are dying; and beyond a point the numbers mean little in the overall construct. After all, there has been a remarkable decline in small and less affluent South Africa.
Research indicates that Covid vaccines still offer protection against the worst outcomes. The Omicron virus produces severe illness in fewer people than previous versions of the virus did. At the same time, hospitalisations and deaths are increasing faster than ever in the United States, Australia and France.
The American expert, Anthony Fauci, has suggested that it is time to stop focusing on case counts. “As infections become more severe, it is much more relevant to focus on hospitalisation,” he said. It now transpires that nearly three-quarters of all the shots have been administered in the world’s wealthiest nations. Regretfully, this has left people in parts of Asia and Africa vulnerable. In America, by far the worst affected country in the world, daily cases have risen five-fold over the past month, while hospitalisations have doubled.
In France, the average daily cases have “quadrupled” while hospitalisations have increased by 70 per cent, according to the World in Data project of the University of Oxford. The death toll that is known remains devastating ~ over 830,000 in America, 620,000 in Brazil and nearly half a million in India. The exact numbers may never be known in many developing countries with huge gaps in health data. Palpably enough, the virus has the world in its grip, and experts fear this may be a reality for years to come.