The global death toll from coronavirus hit four million Wednesday, as the surge in variant cases threatens to overtake progress from the vaccines.
The number of cases tops 185 million, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Both are widely believed to be an undercount because of overlooked cases or deliberate concealment.
The U.S. has the world’s highest reported death toll, at over 600,000, or nearly 1 in 7 deaths, followed by Brazil at more than 520,000. But vaccines, 3 trillion doses of which have been administered, have led to the plummeting of cases and deaths throughout the world.
And the numbers are startling: the United States’ vaccination program has prevented approximately 279,000 additional deaths and up to 1.25 million additional hospitalizations, according to a new study released by Yale University and the Commonwealth Fund. Nearly 50% of all Americans have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
“If there had been no vaccination program, daily deaths from COVID-19 potentially would have jumped to nearly 4,500 deaths per day,” the study said.
But the CDC now projects the highly transmissible delta variant, first identified in India, is now the dominant strain in the U.S. The variant makes up 51.7% of all new infections, according to CDC data.
Also in the news:
►Health officials in Maine say more than half the eligible population is now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus in every county in the state.
►New York City, once the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., threw a ticker tape parade in lower Manhattan on Wednesday to honor the “hometown heroes” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
►The Food and Drug Administration could fully approve the Pfizer vaccine this month, former White House senior advisory Andy Slavitt said on CNN Wednesday.
►The nation’s third-largest school district announced plans Wednesday to open three school-based vaccination sites to students and families next week and establish standing sites at schools across Chicago starting in September, prioritizing neighborhoods with low vaccination rates.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 606,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 185 million cases and more than 4 million deaths. More than 157.9 million Americans have been fully vaccinated — 47.6% of the population, according to the CDC.
📘What we’re reading: An elderly woman who was arrested after she missed phone calls from officials while attending a computer class — a possible violation of her home detention — is headed back home after a federal judge’s decision to grant her request for compassionate release. Read the full story.
The U.K. has recorded more than 30,000 daily coronavirus infections for the first time since January, just as the British government prepares to lift all remaining lockdown restrictions in England.
Government figures showed another 32,548 confirmed cases on Wednesday, the highest level since Jan. 23.
For much of the spring, infections were below the 5,000 mark. But the arrival of the more contagious delta variant, first identified in India, has likely caused cases to spike.
Despite the increase, the British government says it is still aiming to lift all remaining lockdown restrictions in England on July 19, a move that many scientists say is dangerous.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid says cases could hit a daily high of 100,000 this summer, a level of infection not reached during previous waves of the virus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is hoping the rapid rollout of vaccines has created a wall of immunity.
The Biden administration will send a COVID-19 surge response team to provide public health support in southwest Missouri, CNN reported Wednesday.
The “surge response teams,” announced in a White House press conference last week, will be dispatched to emerging COVID-19 hotspots around the country, where vaccination rates remain low. They’ll aim to boost testing and vaccination rates, as well as track down and treat those who have fallen ill from the virus.
Hospital leaders said Tuesday the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Springfield, Missouri, has tripled in the last month.
“99.5% of COVID deaths over a 6 month period are unvaccinated,” wrote Erik Frederick, chief administrative officer of Mercy Springfield, on Twitter. “So if you’re vaccinated there is a light at the end of a tunnel. If you’re unvaccinated that’s probably a train.”
With low vaccination rates in southwest Missouri and the highly infectious delta variant of the virus taking hold, the situation is expected to get worse before it gets better.
Ashley Casad, CoxHealth’s vice president of clinical services, said CoxHealth’s facilities in the Springfield area are seeing roughly 18 new patients a day that need to be admitted because of COVID-19. Next week, that number is expected to grow to 24 a day. Then 27 the week after that.
“Unfortunately our projections are showing that our census is going to continue to go up for the next couple of weeks,” Casad said.
– Galen Bacharier and Harrison Keegan, Springfield News-Leader
Contributing: The Associated Press.