More than 3.3 million people have lost their lives to Covid-19 in 2021 - more deaths than from HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined in 2020. Still, the virus continues to claim around 50,000 lives every week, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), on Tuesday.
"That’s not to mention the unreported deaths, and the millions of excess deaths caused by disruptions to essential health services," he said in a media briefing.
Noting that Africa is now facing a steep wave of infections driven largely by the Omicron variant, he warned there can be no doubt that increased social mixing over the holiday period in many countries will lead to increased cases, overwhelmed health systems and more deaths.
"An event cancelled is better than a life cancelled. It’s better to cancel (celebrating events and holidays) now and celebrate later, than to celebrate now and grieve later," he said.
If we are to end the pandemic in the coming year, we must end inequity, by ensuring 70% of the population of every country is vaccinated by the middle of next year, said Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
According to data from WHO's coronavirus dashboard, so far 44.86 out of 100 people are fully vaccinated across the globe. It says a cumulative 27.3 crore coronavirus infections were reported so far across the globe, including 42.1 lakh infections in the last one week. Cumulative deaths were 53.51 lakh globally and 45,158 in the last one week.
Meanwhile, latest weekly data shows while Omicron is fast spreading without a high rate of fatalities and hospitalisations, many countries across the globe are now going through high rate of infections and death. The US, which reported 8.7 lakh cases in the last one week, had 8,343 deaths due to the virus during the week.
The disease is also fast spreading in eastern and western Europe. While the United Kingdom reported 5.4 lakh new infections and 779 deaths in one week, the Russian Federation had 1.95 lakh new infections and 7,618 deaths for the last seven days.
Other major infected countries during the week were Ukraine with 47,522 new cases and 2,047 deaths, Turkey with 1.30 lakh new infections and 1,264 deaths, Poland with 1.28 lakh new infections and over 3,000 deaths, Mexico with 19,779 infections and 1,127 deaths, Italy with 1.63 lakh new infections and 810 deaths, Hungary with nearly 30,000 infections and over 1,000 deaths, Germany with 2.78 lakh new infections and 2,598 deaths, and France with 3.63 lakh new infections and 1,030 deaths.
According to the WHO dashboard, India had nearly 50,000 infections and 1,918 deaths during the week.