Kolkata, India: India’s Covid-19 death toll surpassed 300,000 as the country attempted to manage the massive outbreak Monday, while Japan inaugurated its first mass immunization centers barely two months before the Olympics began.
Despite the fact that many wealthier countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel have lifted restrictions, deadly outbreaks in India, Brazil, and elsewhere have pushed global coronavirus fatalities beyond 3.4 million.
In India’s major cities, the number of new infections per day has decreased, but cases and fatalities have been breaking records in recent weeks due to a lack of hospital beds, oxygen, and vital medication.
“The first wave taught us about the virus, what to do, how to be, and we even got vaccinations,” Sheela, a relative of a Covid patient, told AFP outside a hospital in the southern city of Chennai.
“But … this situation is scarier.”
Many experts believe India’s true death toll is far higher, especially as the disease spreads into rural areas, where the majority of the country’s 1.3 billion people live and where health care and record-keeping are lacking.
India has given out about 200 million vaccines, but experts warn the program needs to be greatly expanded to adequately combat the infection.
Japan, another Asian country that has been chastised for its low immunization rate, opened its first mass immunization centers on Monday.
“It’s wonderful. I can rest easy now. For a long time, a year and a half, I was feeling rather anxious and tense,” Hideo Ishikawa, 73, told reporters after he got the shot.
With only two months until the postponed Tokyo Olympics begin, Japanese authorities are attempting to speed up their immunization campaign.
Only 2% of Japan’s 125 million people have had full vaccinations, compared to roughly 40% in the United States and 15% in France.
Cases and deaths in the United States are on the decline
In the United States, more than 130 million individuals have been fully vaccinated, and limitations are gradually being lifted in many areas of the country with the highest number of known deaths and cases in the globe.
According to Rochelle Walensky of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the seven-day average of new US infections has decreased to a level not seen since June of last year.
Thanks to this breakthrough, New Yorkers can now partake in many of the activities that were previously unthinkable in a city that was once the epicenter of the deadly US Covid-19 outbreak for more than a year.
Despite the easing, some people are still cautious.
Many guests at an outdoor party in New York’s iconic Central Park said they were hesitant to let strangers into their houses until they were certain they had been vaccinated.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever go back to complete comfort with that … not in the immediate future,” said Merry Mathes, 58.
Israel’s health ministry, another country with a highly successful vaccination program, announced on June 1 that it has suggested eliminating all virus restrictions on its territory.
However, it will continue to impose limitations on visitors to the nation.
Dogs sniff out Covid-19
In contrast, in Brazil, one of the world’s hardest-hit countries, the distribution is painfully slow.
With Brazil’s death toll surpassing 450,000, its far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has been publicly chastised for his coronavirus skepticism and pandemic management.
Despite the risk of coronavirus, he has stayed stubborn, leading a motorbike rally through Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, with hordes of people cheering him on.
Officials in Saudi Arabia have tightened the screws on coronavirus vaccine skeptics, prohibiting them from attending pilgrimages and traveling abroad.
People like them will be barred from universities, shopping centers, and workplaces.
Humans may have an ally in the fight against the virus in the form of dogs.
According to new research published Monday, dogs can be trained to identify more than 90% of Covid-19 infections even when patients are asymptomatic, thanks to their exceptional sense of smell.
The authors of the study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, expressed hope that it will eventually eliminate the need for travelers to be quarantined.