The global death toll from COVID-19 surpassed five million people this weekend, according to a Reuters tally on Saturday, as the world continues to fight the highly contagious Delta variant.
It has taken a little over a year since the coronavirus emerged to claim 2.5 million deaths, but the next 2.5 million deaths have occurred in just under eight months, according to Reuters analysis .
More than half of all deaths reported over an average of seven days have been in the United States, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and India, Reuters reported.
Overall, the pandemic has shown a slowdown around the world in recent weeks, after the Delta variant led to a surge in infections in many countries, according to an AFP tally on Friday.
The number of new daily cases worldwide fell by 11% to 457,000, the news agency said.
The situation improved in most parts of the world this week, with a 31% drop in Latin America and the Caribbean, a 21% drop in the Middle East, while the number of cases in Asia fell by 15%. There were a tenth less in the United States and Canada.
The situation was also stable in Africa where infections were down 1%, and in Europe (up three), but there was an 11% increase in Oceania, where the number of cases nevertheless remained low.
The United States remained by far the country with the highest number of new cases, with 113,000 per day, a drop of 11%, followed by the United Kingdom with 34,500 per day, up 6% and the Turkey, which recorded a drop of 11%.
Per capita, the country with the most new cases this week is Serbia with 681 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, ahead of Mongolia with 511 and Lithuania 450.
The United States also recorded the highest number of deaths with 1,924 per day, followed by Russia with 830 – setting a record for the fourth consecutive day on Friday at 887 – and Brazil with 541.
On Friday, the United States came close to 700,000 total deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Death and reluctance to vaccinate
Health experts said the fourth wave of the pandemic peaked across the United States, particularly in the Deep South, where hospitals were overcrowded weeks ago. But many northern states are still grappling with an increase in cases, and what lies ahead for the winter is much less clear.
The unknowns include how the flu season can strain already exhausted hospital staff and whether those who have refused to be vaccinated will change their minds.
An estimated 70 million eligible Americans remain unvaccinated, fueling the highly contagious Delta variant.
“If you are not vaccinated or if you are not protected against natural infections, this virus will find you,” warned Mike Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
The easing of the summer wave was attributed to more masks being worn and more people vaccinated. The decrease in the number of cases could also be due to the fact that the virus burned susceptible people and ran out of fuel in some places.
All treatments now authorized in the United States for the coronavirus require an IV or an injection.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, warned on Friday that some might see the encouraging trends as a reason not to get the vaccine.
“It’s good news that we’re starting to see the curves lower,” he said. “This is no excuse to move away from the problem of needing to be vaccinated.”