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South China Morning Post #Health

Global Covid-19 death toll passes 3 million mark

The world has reached another grim milestone in the history of the coronavirus pandemic. According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, COVID-19 deaths have passed the three million mark.

The worst-hit country is the United States with more than 566,000 deaths. 


In Brazil more than 368,000 people have lost their lives to the pandemic, and in Mexico at least 211,000. They are followed by India and the United Kingdom.


If you look at the European region as a whole it accounts for the highest total number of deaths at just over 1 million and 23,000. 


India is one of the hardest-hit countries - and it's facing an alarming surge in infections. Day after day for more than a week, it's reported a new record daily rise in cases. The situation is particularly dire in the capital Delhi - which has been placed on a weekend lockdown in a bid to contain the spread. But infection numbers are also exploding in other cities - like Mumbai.


There's been nationwide criticism that the weeks-long Kumbh Mela religious festival hasn't been cancelled. Millions of Hindu pilgrims have been bathing in the Ganges to wash away their sins - many disregarding coronavirus restrictions.


Less than 10 percent of India's 1.4 billion people have been vaccinated. To date, two vaccines are being produced in India. And facilities exist to produce even more. But the pharma companies have so far refused to sign patent waivers - saying there's no evidence that would boost production. And a new struggle lies ahead - ever more aggressive mutations.


It's proving too much for millions who find work in the big cities. They are forced to look elsewhere during the lockdown. But last year food was scarce there too. 


Germany is seeing its biggest spike in coronavirus cases since January. One of the main reasons is the slow pace of vaccinations. Fewer than one in five Germans has received a first dose. The rise in cases has prompted a warning from medical workers that intensive care units are being pushed to the brink.


In recent weeks, the number of COVID patients in Germany’s ICUs has been rising sharply again. By now, the peak of the second wave of the pandemic has almost been reached.  Intensive care beds are becoming scarce, and the workload of staff continues to grow.


But it's not just the sheer increase in COVID patients that worries the team. Their patients' health is deteriorating faster in this third wave of the pandemic. They are also on average younger than before, probably also because most people over 80 years old have already been vaccinated. 


To what extent German hospital capacities are reached varies greatly from region to region. While some are already completely full, others are still coping. One thing would help: More vaccinations.   


If the number of COVID patients continues to rise, other important treatments would have to be postponed. In some areas in Germany, that is already the case. The situation, many doctors agree, is serious.

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