INTERNATIONAL

Brazil death toll hits 5 lakh, China gives 1b Covid jabs

China on Sunday announced it had administered its one-billionth shot in the world’s biggest coronavirus inoculation drive as Brazil’s death toll from the pandemic passed 500,000.

The global death toll from Covid-19 is now more than 3.8 million and many nations are still battling outbreaks, but vaccine drives in some countries are allowing activities that were unthinkable a few months ago.

China’s vaccine milestone comes after the number of shots administered globally passed 2.5 billion on Friday, according to an AFP count from official sources.

But the Asian giant’s vaccination efforts initially got off to a slow start after a successful fight against the virus left little sense of urgency to get jabbed.

A lack of transparency and previous vaccine scandals have also led to resistance among many residents.

Authorities have set an ambitious target of fully vaccinating 40 per cent of China’s nearly 1.4 billion people by the end of this month.

Some provinces are offering vaccines for free to encourage people to roll up their sleeves. Residents in central Anhui province have been given free eggs, while some living in Beijing have received shopping coupons.

China’s success against the virus stands in stark contrast to Brazil, which on Saturday became the second nation after the United States to surpass half a million Covid deaths.

Vaccination efforts have been slow with only 11 per cent of the Brazilian population inoculated, as a third wave of infections spreads through the nation.

Far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, who previously hit out at vaccines, has promised to immunise the entire population by the end of the year — something specialists consider unlikely.

He has been criticised for downplaying the illness from the outset, opposing lockdown measures and plugging unproven medical treatments.

On Saturday, thousands of Brazilians again took to the streets to protest against his handling of the pandemic.

‘His position on Covid and his denialism are absurd. He has abandoned reality and common sense,’ said Robert Almeida, a 50-year-old photographer marching in Rio.

‘There is no explaining this, it is surreal.’

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 38,62,364 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 10:00 GMT on Sunday.

At least 17,81,25,020 cases of coronavirus have been registered.

The vast majority have recovered, though some have continued to experience symptoms weeks or even months later.

The figures are based on daily reports provided by health authorities in each country.

They exclude revisions made by other statistical organisations, which show that the number of deaths is much higher.

The World Health Organisation estimates that the pandemic’s overall toll could be two to three times higher than official records, due to the excess mortality that is directly and indirectly linked to Covid-19.

A large number of the less severe or asymptomatic cases also remain undetected, despite intensified testing in many countries.

On Saturday, 9,048 new deaths and 3,54,462 new cases were recorded worldwide.

Based on latest reports, the countries with the most new deaths were Brazil with 2,301, followed by India with 1,576 and Colombia with 589.

The United States is the worst-affected country with 6,01,741 deaths from 3,35,38,037 cases.

After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 5,00,800 deaths from 1,78,83,750 cases, India with 3,86,713 deaths from 2,98,81,965 cases, Mexico with 2,31,151 deaths from 24,75,705 cases, and Peru with 1,90,202 deaths from 20,26,729 cases.

The country with the highest number of deaths compared to its population is Peru with 577 fatalities per 1,00,000 inhabitants, followed by Hungary with 310, Bosnia-Herzegovina with 294, the Czech Republic with 283, and the Republic of North Macedonia with 263.

Latin America and the Caribbean overall has 12,36,235 deaths from 3,59,74,493 cases, Europe 11,57,566 deaths from 5,38,97,350 infections, and the United States and Canada 6,27,789 deaths from 3,49,45,971 cases.

Asia has reported 5,54,846 deaths from 3,90,29,236 cases, the Middle East 1,47,709 deaths from 90,42,064 cases, Africa 1,37,103 deaths from 51,84,463 cases, and Oceania 1,116 deaths from 51,445 cases.

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