Wealth and power have not shielded rich countries from the awful power of the virus.
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 1 million lives around the world. The number of cases of infection has also crossed 33 million, according to the Covid-19 global tracker.
The nearly 1 million deaths attributed to the coronavirus in nine months are far more than the 690,000 from AIDS or the 400,000 from malaria in all of 2019. They’re trending just behind the 1.5 million from tuberculosis.
Wealth and power have not shielded rich countries from the awful power of the virus. The United States “has been the worst-hit country in the world” with more than 6 million coronavirus infections and more than 200,000 deaths, reflecting “the lack of success that we have had in containing this outbreak,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, told a Harvard Medical School audience earlier this month.
More than 40% of US adults are at risk for severe disease from the virus because of high blood pressure and other conditions. It’s not just old people in nursing homes who are dying, Fauci stressed.
Although cases are rising, death rates seem to be falling, said Dr Cyrus Shahpar, a former US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist now at the nonprofit group Resolve to Save Lives.
The virus’s true lethality – the infection fatality rate – isn’t yet known, because scientists don’t know how many people have had it without showing symptoms. What’s often reported are case fatality rates – the portion of people who have tested positive and then gone on to die. Comparing these from country to country is problematic because of differences in testing and vulnerable populations. Tracking these within a country over time also carries that risk, but it can suggest some trends.
“The US cumulative case fatality rate in April was around 5 per cent. Now we’re around 3 per cent,” Shahpar said.
In England, researchers reported that case fatality rates have fallen substantially since peaking in April. The rate in August was around 1.5 per cent versus more than 6 per cent six weeks earlier.
(With inputs from AP)
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