Europe Becomes COVID-19 Epicenter Again

Europe is once again at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, fueled by daily record deaths and cases in Russia, and surges in Ukraine, Poland and Germany.

The continent was the only one to post one-week increases: in deaths at 10% and cases at 9%.

Worldwide, cases increased 2% with 250,543,185 so far Sunday but deaths declined 5% with the toll 5,063,724, according to tracking by Worldometers.info.

Europe’s death toll stands at 1,326,613, the most of the continents, cases were 66,221,982, second behind Asia.

“We are at another critical point of pandemic resurgence,” said the World Health Organization’s European leader, Dr. Hans Kluge, during a news briefing Friday. “Europe is back at the epicenter of the pandemic, where we were one year ago.”

Kluge said from WHO’s office in Copenhagen, Denmark, the continent could see half a million more deaths by February.

“We must change our tactics, from reacting to surges of COVID-19 to preventing them from happening in the first place,” he said.

He cited a relaxation of public health measures. WHO’s European region covers 53 countries including parts of Central Asia.

On July 19’s “freedom day,” virtually all of England’s restrictions were lifted, including required mask-wearing. Other European nations have instituted passes that require proof of vaccination or a negative test to visit bars and restaurants or work in several fields, including healthcare.

In one week, Russia’s deaths rose 8,255, the most in the world, at 5% and cases were up 6%, 283,133, which was second to the U.S. art 465,174.

The United States is No. 1 in the world in deaths at 775,153 and cases at 47,319,956.

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany’s fatalities rose 78% with a 785 weekly increase, and cases climbed 28% with 165,822. Also, Poland’s deaths were up 34% at 743 and cases 48% at 73,625. And Ukraine’s deaths increased 9% at 4,242 but cases were down 2% at 153,142.

On Sunday, Russia reported a record 1,179 deaths and is fifth overall with 246,814. And cases were 39,165, behind the mark of 41,335 one day earlier, for a total of 8,795,095, also fifth in the world.

Russia has exceeded 1,000 deaths every day since Oct. 16. Also, Russia hasn’t been below 700 since July. Last year, deaths reached 635 on Dec. 24.

Russia is lagging the world in vaccination with 39.2% of its population with at least one dose of a domestic-produced vaccine, including Sputnik 5.

Two other Eastern European nations have low vaccination rates: Ukraine at 30.2% and Romania at 36.3%. Poland’s rate is 55.4%.

Worldwide, vaccination doses grew by 250 million in one week to 7.25 billion with the world’s population of 7.9 billion, according to tracking by Bloomberg. Elsewhere in the world, the United States is at 67.1% with Mainland China at 82.5%.

China has administered the most doses at 2.3 billion, ahead of India at 1.1 billion and the United States at 428 million.

Russia has attempted to mitigate the situation by boosting vaccinations.

In Moscow, Russia’s capital, unvaccinated seniors most stay at home over the next four months. Schools and businesses are closed. Moscow went into a 10-day lockdown that is scheduled to end Monday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week it is crucial for armed forces personnel to become vaccinated. “For them, it goes double, triple,” he said. “It is essential to guarantee that the servicemen are on track and remain healthy. The combat readiness of the armed forces depends on this. Therefore, I ask you to continue this work.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said “we have a very challenging situation in the country.”

 

In Eastern Europe on Sunday, Ukraine reported 449 deaths, one day after a record 793, and is 18th overall at 72,084. Poland gained 24 for 17th at 77,757. And Romania’s deaths rose 263 and a record 589 Tuesday for 20th at 50,755.

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany added 14 deaths Sunday for 97,033 in 13th but 184 on Wednesday, the highest since late May. The nation posted a record 35,806 cases Saturday and added 11,155 Sunday. Until last week, the last time cases exceeded 30,000 was in mid-April.

Germany has vaccinated 69.7% of its population with one dose and is dealing with hesitancy.

In a poll, 39% are opposed to mandatory measures with 57% in favor. Those in the eastern half of the nation recall communist orders as Easter Germany.

Just 5% of unvaccinated respondents said they were certain or likely to get vaccinated, according to polling by Forsa.

Germany’s case rate per 100,000 people is now higher than it was in April, at 169.9.

In Britain, it is now 412.4 per 100,000 people.

In the past week, Britain’s deaths rose 8% at 1,185, including 292 Tuesday, the highest since early March with cases down 11% to 252,815.

Overall, Britain is eighth in the world with 141,805, including 62 Sunday. And cases are fourth at 9,301,909, with 30,305 most recently.

Scientists and doctors are confident the current wave peaked late last month.

“For the first time in several weeks, we are seeing a decrease in infections among secondary school-aged children in England, although rates do remain high,” said Sarah Crofts, the head of analytical outputs for the Office for National Statistics, in a report by the Financial Times.

Britain has vaccinated 75.2% of its population with at least one dose. Booster are now allowed five months after the second dose.

“COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your family ahead of a challenging winter,” said Sajid Javid, the health secretary. “This change to the booking system will make it as easy as possible for people to book their booster jabs.”

In the European Union, the one-shot vaccination rate is 69.9%, including 81.9% in Spain, 79.2% in France, 77.4% in Italy.

In deaths, Italy is ninth with 132,391, including 26 Sunday. In the top 20: France is 12th with 117,910, an increase of 10 Saturday; Spain 16th with 87,504 and no data on weekends.

 

In Asia over the past week, deaths decreased 16% with a current 1,181,120 and cases were down 2% with 80,047,251, the most of the continents.

India’s deaths declined 34% to 2,568 one week after a surge of 83%, including 805 on Oct. 28. Cases are down 16%.

On Sunday, India reported 526 deaths for a total of 460,791, third in the world. But cases were 10,853, the lowest in nine months, for a total of 34,355,536 in second worldwide.

India holds world daily records: 6,148 deaths in June and 414,188 cases in May.

India, which is the prime manufacturer of vaccines for the world, has been ramping up inoculations. The Asian nation’s one-shot rate for the entire population is 54.1%.

Covishield doses comprise 90% of the total vaccines.

“There is absolutely no shortage of vaccines for the proposed month-long door-to-door vaccination drive as the production is as per the target,” national task force member Dr. NK Arora said in a report by The Times of India. “Vaccine availability is no longer an issue since September. The issue is to endure minimum coverage at the earliest.”

Meanwhile, a ban on international commercial passenger flights to and from India extended until Nov. 30.

Like India, Indonesia’s daily deaths and cases are also a fraction from a few months ago.

Indonesia ranks seventh in the world at 143,545 with an increase of 11, way down from a record 2,069 on July 27. The Asian nation’s cases are 14th at 4,248,165, including 44 Sunday, also a fraction of the record 54,000 in July. Indonesia has vaccinated 46.5% of its population with at least one dose.

Iran is 11th at 127,299, including 126 Sunday. Iran’s one-shot vaccination rate is 65.8%, up from 62.7% one week ago and four weeks ago 43.6%.

Turkey is sixth in the world for cases at 8,206,375, including 27,474 reported Sunday and 18th in deaths at 71,927, including 203 most recently. Turkey has a 66.9% vaccination rate.

Japan reported no deaths for the first time in 15 months with the total 18,212.

And there were 162 cases Sunday after 86 Monday and compared with the record of 25,492 on Aug. 21 after the Summer Olympics ended on Aug. 8. Tokyo reported 21 new infections Sunday, the 11th day in a row under 30.

Japan, which ended its state of emergency on Oct. 1, has a relatively low 13,686 infections per million and 145 deaths per million. Worldwide, it’s 32,106 cases per million and 649.1 per million deaths. The United States’ figures are 2,323 fatalities per million and 141,819 infections per million.

 

Japan, which didn’t administer its first vaccine doses until February, has vaccinated 78% of the population.

The pandemic began in late 2019 in Mainland China, but the nation’s death toll has stood at 4,636 for several months and 80th behind Zimbabwe at 4,685. China added 55 cases Sunday.

Ruili, a southwestern Chinese town of about 270,000 on the border with Myanmar, has dealt with three successive lockdowns in the last year.

“I feel like our entire city has been abandoned by the rest of the country,” a jade trader surnamed Wang told NPR. “I do not feel like I am living in China right now.”

South Korea’s cases rose 2,248 Sunday after a record 3,273 on Sept. 25. The nation has 2,956 deaths, including 20 more Sunday.

South Korea’s vaccination rate is 80.1%, after getting off to a late start like Japan.

Israel has a death toll of 8,114 with two reported Sunday, and 411 cases most recently with the record 20,523 Sept. 1. Israel has among the world’s worst infection rates: 143,006 per million.

The nation’s one-shot vaccination rate is 69.4%. And booster shots are required for travelers and entry to public spaces for those 12 and older.

 

Israel and Turkey are among 18 non-European Union nations that participate in the 27-nation EU vaccine certificate program, meaning people who have been fully vaccinated can visit other member countries, including England, without needing to quarantine. Each nation can implement restrictions.

On Monday, the United States will allow entry to fully vaccinated foreign travelers from 33 nations, including by air and land, if they’d spent any of the previous 14 days in several countries. They also must have a negative COVID-19 test no more than three days prior to departure.

Canada earlier ended its advisory against non-essential travel for vaccinated citizens. Canada reopened its border to vaccinated Americans in August.

In North America, the deaths are 1,159,283 with an 18% weekly drop, and cases are 56,808,318, decreasing 8%.

The United States’ deaths decreased 17% and cases 7%. On Saturday, the United States reported 422 deaths and 32,479 cases though most states don’t report data on weekends.

Mexico is fourth in the world in deaths at 289,674 with a 27% weekly increase and 261 recorded Saturday. The nation’s cases dropped 22% with 3,574 most recently for 15th at 3,825,404.

Canada ranks 27th worldwide in deaths, dropping behind Malaysia last week, with 29,144, including five on Sunday, and 26th in cases, passing Japan last week, with 1,730,299, including 1,1181ost recently. Canada’s deaths record is 257 on Dec. 29 and the cases mark is 11,383 on Jan. 3.

 

Canada has around one-third the rates per million than the United States with deaths 763 and cases 45,279.

Canada has the best one-shot vaccination rate of the three largest countries in North America at 79.2%. The United States is at 67.1% for one shot. Mexico’s percentage is 58.5%, though it was the first Latin American nation to begin vaccinating people.

In South America, cases decreased 17% with a total of 38,535,462 and deaths were down 7% to 1,172,885

Brazil’s deaths decreased 25% to 609,417, which is second in the world, and 13% in cases to 21,874,324, which ranks third. Brazil reported 305 deaths and 11,866 cases Saturday.

Also in the top 10 for deaths: Peru is sixth at 200,409 and Colombia 10th at 127,488. Argentina is 13th with 1116,091 deaths and Chile 22nd with 37,841.

On Sunday, Chile reported 21 more deaths. Saturday it was Peru 36, Colombia 32 and Argentina eight. These numbers are way down from records: Peru with 1,154, Colombia with 754, Argentina with 791, Chile with 316.

Chile has the highest vaccination rate on the continent at 86.7% with Brazil at 77.2%, Argentina 77.7%, Colombia at 61.2% and Peru 58.5%.

Latin America is at 63% with at least one shot, according to New York Times tracking. The United States and Canada are at 68% with Europe at 60%, Asia-Pacific 59%, Middle East 43% and Africa 8.7%.

Africa has 16.72% of the world’s population but its share of vaccinations is 2.8% at 202 million doses, according to Our World in Data.

Specifically, South Africa has vaccinated just 26.1% of its population with at least one shot.

Scientists are trying to repurpose drugs used for malaria and other diseases but they are having trouble finding participants for clinical trials.

“We have a broken healthcare system in sub-Saharan Africa,” Samba Sow, the national principal investigator for ANTICOV in Mali, told Nature.com. “We can’t wait until patients become severely ill.”

In the continent, deaths dropped 9% for the week with a total of 219,970 and cases also were down but only 0.8% at 8,606,128.

South Africa is 15th in the world with 89,332 deaths, including 13 Sunday. And cases rose 205 most recently.

Tunisia has the second-most deaths with 25,272 ahead of Egypt with 19,011.

Oceania, with only 42.3 million people, has 3,838 deaths with a decrease of 16% in seven days, or 128, and cases are 323,323, up 13,239 with a drop of 21%.

New Zealand’s deaths rose by three in one week to 31 with none Sunday. Australia’s toll increased to 1,815, with 10 reported Sunday and 83 in a week.

 

New Zealand added 114 cases Sunday one day after a record 204. Australia was up 1,433 with a record 2,688 reached Oct. 14.

Australia has a vaccination rate of 74.9% with New Zealand at 75.6% among the entire population.

On Friday, Australia’s rate for those 16 and older fully vaccinated reached 80%. In the United States, the rate for 12 older is 68.2%.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted: “Great news Australia! We did it! 80% of all Australians aged 16+ are now fully vaccinated. But let’s keep going. A huge thank you to everyone. This has been a massive national effort. Get your #COVID19 jab and help Australia to continue to safely reopen and stay safely open.

In the Australian Capital Territory, it is 95%.

New Zealand has been in a nationwide lockdown since August after a single case, the country’s first in six months. Restrictions are set to end once 90% of those 12 and older have been fully vaccinated, which is projected for later this month.

In Australia, Victoria and New South Wales are no longer in lockdowns after months-long ones.

On Monday, Australia welcomed its first group of foreign visitors after its borders were closed for nearly 600 days. Allowed to enter now are fully vaccinated travelers from New Zealand who test negative before departure. Next up: Singapore on Nov. 21.

Starting Monday, Australian citizens and permanent residents can leave the country without needing an exemption.

Fiji, with a 70.3% vaccinated rate, has 674 deaths, none in one week. On May 3, there were four fatalities. Cases have climbed from 121 on May 3 to 52,247. Fiji has 903,457 residents.

Guam, a territory of the United States with fewer than 200,000 residents, has 248 deaths, 10 in a week, and 18,624 cases, including 38 most recently. Its vaccination rate is 78.8% for the entire population, including 99.9% of those eligible, which is 12 and older, and also 99.9% 18 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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