Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

Global death toll from COVID-19 officially tops 4 million

The number of people in the world who have died of COVID-19 surpassed four million on Wednesday, The Associated Press reports, citing data compiled from official sources by Johns Hopkins University. 

"The tally of lives lost over the past year and a half," AP notes, "is about equal to the number of people killed in battle in all of the world's wars since 1982, according to estimates from the Peace Research Institute Oslo. The toll is three times the number of people killed in traffic accidents around the globe every year. It is about equal to the population of Los Angeles or the nation of Georgia. It is equivalent to more than half of Hong Kong or close to 50 percent of New York City. Even then, it is widely believed to be an undercount because of overlooked cases or deliberate concealment." 

The COVID-19 vaccines have helped curb the number of new cases and fatalities — about 7,900 people are dying each day now, versus more than 18,000 a day at the pandemic's peak in January — but vaccine distribution is grossly uneven. Many African countries are just starting their vaccination drives, and vaccines are scarce in South America, which accounts for about 40 percent of daily COVID-19 deaths. Even in nations with high vaccination rates, however — Britain, Israel, and the U.S. — the more contagious Delta variant is spreading fast. The vaccines appear effective against the Delta strain, so the global challenge now involves racing to put shots in arms before that variant — or a more vaccine-resistant one — hits an area.