It is a paradox of the tragedy confronting the surge of coronavirus the world over. It thus comes about that while it took more than a year for the global toll to reach two million, it took just another three months for the worldwide toll to peak to three million. Indeed, the deaths crossed three million on Tuesday and are yet rising.
The spike, therefore, has been frightfully faster than the initial spread from Wuhan and further afield. The raging global resurgence of the Covid-19 infection has turned out to be a forbidding challenge to vaccination efforts almost across the world. This has been no less unfortunate than the disease per se.
Like perhaps in Odisha where, given the rapidly dwindling stock of vaccines, the administration in Bhubaneswar has sought replenishments from the Centre. Though the situation is less acute in West Bengal, the state government has addressed a similar appeal to the Union health ministry. The surge has generally been attributed to the infectious variants that were first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
These variants are no less dreadful than the original strain. The other critical factors are said to be the public fatigue with lockdowns and other restrictions, most particularly in the acutely affected regions, palpably in Maharashtra, not to forget Delhi where a night curfew has been imposed. Brazil is now leading the world in the daily average of deaths.
The Latin American country accounts for one in every four deaths each day. It would be pertinent to recall that President Bolsonaro had not too long ago referred to Covid-19 as “just a flu”. The country that he helms is now one of the world’s worst affected. According to the epidemiologist of the World Health Organisation, Maria Van Kerkhove, many hospital ICUs in Brazil are “more than 90 per cent full”.
The European region, which includes 51 countries, has the highest number of deaths at an estimated 1.1 million. Notably, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, Italy, and Germany account for nearly 60 per cent of the deaths in the continent.
The United States of America has the highest number of deaths (555,000) of any country and accounts for about 19 per cent of all deaths due to Covid the world over. In the midst of the worldwide gloom and doom is the statement of the EU regulator, the European Medical Agency, that the AstraZeneca vaccine is being reviewed in the context of reports of a “clear association” between the shot and “rare blood clots in the brain”, though the direct cause of the side-effect is as yet unknown.
We do not know if the benefits-risk assessment is still largely positive. Yet we do know that there are many who might baulk at the thought of being vaccinated with potential adverse effects.