Nearly 20 months into the global pandemic, infections are again on the rise

Earlier this week the world reached another grim milestone in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic: a death toll of 5 million, a staggering number that experts say is certainly an undercount. It’s also a figure that will continue to grow. Nearly 20 months into the global pandemic, infections are again on the rise—up 6% over two weeks ago to roughly 432,000 new cases per day, according to the New York Times—and the coronavirus continues to test governments around the world. 

COVID, of course, poses the greatest challenge to countries that so far have had limited access to vaccines, a category that includes a significant portion of the world, including much of Africa and parts of the Middle East. While nearly half (49.7%) of the globe’s population has received at least one COVID shot as of Wednesday, Nov. 3, according to Our World in Data, which collects information from local governments, those people are disproportionately living in wealthy nations. Just 3.9% of people living in low-income countries have so far received at least one vaccine, while 72% of those in high-income countries have. Seventeen countries, including Sudan, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, have reached less than 3% of their populations. Another 14 countries, including Syria, Ghana, and Senegal, are short of 10%.

A number of countries have made huge gains in vaccinating their populations in recent weeks. India (52.9%), Mexico, (57.3%), and Vietnam (59.1) have all recently surpassed the halfway mark.

By continent, South America leads the world in the percent of citizens vaccinated, with 67% having received at least one COVID shot. That’s similar to the current level in the U.S., where 66.9% of Americans have received at least one vaccine according to the CDC. Community spread of the coronavirus, largely due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, remains high across the U.S.

While one-third of the U.S. population has yet to get their first COVID shot, nearly 20 million individuals—10.3% of fully vaccinated Americans—have received a booster dose. More than a quarter of fully vaccinated seniors in the U.S. have so far gotten a booster shot. In total 5.9% of the U.S. population has received a booster dose, compared to 14.5% in Turkey, 30% in Chile, and 45% in Israel. 

Earlier today, the World Health Organization approved for emergency use Covaxin, a COVID vaccine manufactured in India, a development that should help in the global effort to reach those still waiting for their first COVID vaccine.

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