Rising again: The Hindu Editorial on global rise of fresh COVID-19 cases

Rising again: The Hindu Editorial on global rise of fresh COVID-19 cases

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Adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour is the only way to reduce impact of a third wave

Fresh daily cases of the coronavirus, globally, after touching a new peak of over 0.9 million on April 28, began to drop steadily, reaching a low point on June 21, when only over 0.3 million cases were reported. But there has been a rise in cases, again globally, since then. July 15 saw 0.53 million daily cases and the second week of the month witnessed nearly three million new cases. A total of 188.9 million cases have been reported worldwide as on July 15, driven in most countries by the highly transmissive Delta variant. A total of 111 countries now have this variant. Brazil, India, Indonesia, the U.K. and Colombia have reported the most cases in the past week, with the sharpest increase being in Zimbabwe (72%), Indonesia (44%), the U.S. (38%), Bangladesh (35%), and the U.K. (30%). Many Asian countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, where the spread was under control, have also been reporting a high number of daily cases. Indonesia has seen a surge in new cases, with each day witnessing a sharp increase over the previous day. With 56,757 cases on July 15, Indonesia is now the new Asian epicentre; India reported over 39,000 cases on July 15. According to WHO, COVID-19 deaths are increasing again after falling for nine straight weeks, with the sharpest upticks in Africa and Southeast Asia. On July 7, the total global COVID-19 deaths crossed four million. It took just 90 days for the last million deaths to occur, the shortest time span for every one million deaths recorded.

The U.S. and much of Europe have demonstrated how high vaccination coverage can sharply reduce the number of deaths and even hospitalisation. For instance, with over 87% of the adult population vaccinated with one dose and over 67% with two doses in the U.K., there have been fewer hospitalisations and deaths despite spikes in cases. In the U.S., the case rise is largely in States with low vaccination coverage, and deaths mainly in the unvaccinated. Over 55% of the U.S. population has had one dose; 48% are fully vaccinated. This brings the focus back on increasing vaccination coverage and striving for global vaccine equity to prevent deaths and the emergence of deadlier variants. Ironically, the discussion in some countries is on a booster dose even while health-care workers in many African countries have not been fully vaccinated. Israel has begun giving booster shots to people with a compromised immune system, while the U.S. has ruled out booster shots for now. With several Indian States reporting vaccine shortages, strict adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour even by the fully vaccinated is the only way to delay and reduce the impact of a third wave.

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