The world has now recorded over 250 million Covid-19 infections and some European countries are currently seeing a significant rise in cases. However, globally, a Reuters analysis shows that the surge caused by the Delta variant is showing signs of easing. Russia, the Ukraine, and Greece are some of the countries now reporting near record highs since the start of the pandemic, with analysis showing half of all new cases reported globally are in Europe, where a million new cases are reported every 4 days. According to the report, Eastern Europe has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the region.
However, the daily average of new infections has fallen by 36% globally in the last 3 months, according to Reuters. Maria Van Kerkhove, a World Health Organisation epidemiologist, believes the worst may be over for many countries, thanks to vaccine rollouts and natural exposure.
“We think between now and the end of 2022, this is the point where we get control over this virus, where we can significantly reduce severe disease and death.”
While vaccines have had a vital role in preventing serious illness and deaths, a number of promising treatments for Covid-19 are also emerging. Britain has become the first country in the world to approve the antiviral pill, Molnupiravir. Studies show that if taken in the early days following diagnosis, it could halve the chances of death or hospitalisation for people most at risk of developing severe symptoms.
Meanwhile, vaccine inequity continues to be a significant challenge and one that medical experts say needs to be addressed urgently. Data shows that over half the world’s population has yet to receive a single dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. In poorer countries, fewer than 5% of the population has received a dose. The WHO and other groups have called on the 20 richest nations to fund a US$23.4 billion plan to provide poorer countries with vaccines, tests, and treatments in the coming year. The Pan American Health Organisation says it’s vital that frontline workers, the elderly, and people with underlying conditions be protected, to avoid healthcare systems potentially collapsing.
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