The global tally of confirmed cases of the coronavirus-borne illness COVID-19 surpassed 225 million on Tuesday, as President Joe Biden was gearing up to call for world leaders to work together and get 70% of the global population vaccinated within a year.
Biden is planning to convene a virtual COVID-19 summit next week when the heads of state gather for the United Nations latest General Assembly and will outline that ambitious goal, the New York Times reported, citing draft documents that it has obtained.
The president will call on “chiefs of state, heads of government and international organizations, business, philanthropic, and nongovernmental leaders to come together to commit to ending the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Times reported. The goal is in line with a target set by the World Health Organization to have 60% of the world’s population vaccinated by mid-2022.
Right now, about 5.7 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. Researchers at Duke University have estimated that the world needs at least 11 billion doses to fully inoculate 70% of its population of about 7 billion, as some vaccines require two shots spaced apart.
Vaccination rates differ widely by country and continent, however, after wealthier countries were able to access most of the early supply, despite urgent pleas from agencies including the WHO that they share with poorer countries. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has consistently argued that as long as major swaths of a population are unvaccinated, variants may emerge, with the risk that one might prove fully vaccine-resistant.
The WHO has called for a moratorium on boosters until poorer countries get access to their first vaccine doses.
Biden will call on richer countries to either purchase or donate 1 billion additional doses of vaccine, beyond the two billion that have already been promised, and will push for funding of $3 billion in 2021 and $7 billion in 2022 for vaccine readiness and administration, to combat hesitancy and buy ancillary supplies, said the Times.
Pressure is steadily growing for the U.S. and others to make vaccine technology and know-how available to the developing world, to allow those countries make their own and move faster in getting shots into arms.
Biden is also facing the challenge of persuading unvaccinated Americans to get their shots, with just 53.9% of the overall population fully inoculated, meaning they have had two shots of the two-dose vaccines developed by Pfizer
and German partner BioNTech
or one of Johnson & Johnson’s
one-shot regimen. Some 63.2% of Americans have had at least one shot.
But with deaths now averaging 1,827 a day, according to a Times tracker, or the most since March, the vaccine program is more urgent than ever as the vaccines have proved highly effective in preventing serious illness and death.
Most of the 172,404 average daily new cases, the 100,087 daily hospitalizations and deaths are in unvaccinated people. Media reports of patients regretting their decisions not to get vaccinated as they lie gravely ill in ICUs have proliferated in recent months. The Guardian had a grim report Tuesday about vaccine-hesitant people begging their friends and relatives to get their shots right before they died of the virus.
Conservative radio host Bob Enyart, a self-described religious fanatic who had called for a boycott of COVID vaccines, died of COVID on Monday, the New York Post reported. Enyart contracted the virus while fighting face mask and social distancing requirements in court.
The Washington Post, meanwhile, ran an opinion column from a woman who had major life-saving surgery postponed in Tennessee because the hospital was overwhelmed by COVID patients.
“I’m bone-deep disappointed,” wrote Betsy Phillips, a writer for the Nashville Scene. “But mostly, I am angry. I did everything I was asked to do to avoid catching or spreading covid-19. I wanted to do my part to end this crisis. Now, I wonder: Are there any circumstances under which my neighbors would do the same to keep me safe?”
Elsewhere, Russian President Vladimir Putin is going into self-isolation because of coronavirus cases in his inner circle, the Kremlin said Tuesday, adding that he tested negative for COVID-19, the Associated Press reported.
The outbreak in the Fujian province of China caused by the highly transmissible delta variant has worsened and officials are limiting movement in the city of Xiamen, the South China Morning Post reported.
Australian capital Canberra has extended its lockdown for another month after recording 22 new COVID cases, The Canberra Times reported. The restrictions will be reviewed in two weeks’ time.
The U.K. government will start offering booster shots to 30 million people starting next week to protect healthcare workers, people over the age of 50 and those with compromised immune systems, the Washington Post reported. That move comes after it announced Monday it would offer vaccines to all healthy children and teens aged 12 to 15.
The global tally for the coronavirus-borne illness climbed above 225.3 million on Tuesday, while the death toll rose to 4.64 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. continues to lead the world with a total of 41 million cases and 662,131 deaths.
India is second by cases after the U.S. at 33.3 million and has suffered 443,21`3 deaths. Brazil has second highest death toll at 587,066 and 21 million cases. In Europe, Russia has most fatalities at 190,793, followed by the U.K. at 134,587.
China, where the virus was first discovered late in 2019, has had 107,457 confirmed cases and 4,848 deaths, according to its official numbers, which are widely held to be massively underreported.