Covid-19 Live Updates: A Billion Shots, but Global Cases Keep Rising

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Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

A global coronavirus surge that is driven by the devastation in India continues to break daily records and run rampant in much of the world, even as vaccinations steadily ramp up in wealthy countries and more than one billion shots have now been given globally.

On Sunday, the world’s seven-day average of new cases hit 774,404, according to a New York Times database. That is a jump of 15 percent from two weeks earlier, and higher than the peak average of 740,390 during the last global surge in January.

Despite the number of shots given around the world — more than one billion, according to a New York Times tracker — far from enough of the world’s estimated population of nearly eight billion have been vaccinated to slow the virus’s steady spread.

And vaccinations have been highly concentrated in wealthy nations: 82 percent of shots worldwide have been given in high- and upper-middle-income countries, according to data compiled by the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. Only 0.2 percent of doses have been administered in low-income countries.

Israel is far ahead of much of the world in vaccinations: More than half of the population is now fully vaccinated. In Britain, where a highly contagious and deadly variant was discovered, nearly two thirds of the population is at least partly vaccinated and the rate of new cases is now among the lowest in Europe.

The United States has also partly vaccinated about 41 percent of its population and has loosened a ban on the export of raw materials for vaccines to help India control the world’s worst outbreak.

India is recording more than a third of all new global cases each day, averaging more than 260,000 new daily cases over the past week. The country’s sudden surge, driven by the spread of a newer variant, is casting increasing doubt on the official death toll of nearly 200,000, with more than 2,000 people dying every day.

Experts say the official numbers, however staggering, represent just a part of the virus’s spread, with hospitals overwhelmed and lacking critical supplies like oxygen.

India is home to the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker. But only about 8.6 percent of India’s population has received at least one shot of a vaccine. Its surge led to the Indian government’s decision to withhold exports of doses that many low- and middle-income countries were relying on. The vaccine rollout in Africa, which was already slower than it is in any other continent, could soon come to a near halt because of the suspension.

Public health experts say the number of global cases is most likely surging because more contagious virus variants are spreading just as people are starting to let their guards down.

In Thailand, where cases were kept at bay for months with strict quarantines and lockdowns, the virus has spread rapidly, in part by unmasked people partying. Daily cases, still low by global standards, have increased from 26 on April 1 to more than 2,000 three weeks later. And in India, many people stopped taking precautions after officials eased a lockdown that was imposed early last year.

“India let their guard down when the numbers fell and they thought they were over their last peak,” said Barry Bloom, a research professor and former dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He added that the United States should “take a lesson from other countries before we become complacent and decide everything’s OK.”

As bad as India’s situation is, the numbers have room to grow worse: Its daily caseloads, adjusted for its huge population, rank well below other countries’.

The rate of new cases in the United States is falling but remains alarmingly high — similar to last summer’s surge.

The rates of new coronavirus cases also remain high across much of South America. In Brazil, reported cases are starting to drop but remain high after a more contagious variant tore through the country and overwhelmed hospitals.

In Europe, the pace of vaccinations lags that in the United States and Canada, and the number of new coronavirus cases remains particularly high in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. Turkey, at the crossroads between Europe, the Middle East and Asia, is another hot spot.

Dr. Robert Murphy, the executive director of the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University, said the United States had a responsibility to send unused vaccine doses to other countries as supplies increase.

“We have to start thinking on a global scale and do what we can to help these other countries,” Dr. Murphy said. “Otherwise we’re never going to put out the whole fire.”

A line at the Louvre in Paris last summer. The European Union is allowing fully vaccinated Americans entry into the bloc this summer.
Credit…Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

BRUSSELS — American tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to visit the European Union over the summer, the head of the bloc’s executive body said in an interview with The New York Times on Sunday, more than a year after shutting down nonessential travel from most countries to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The fast pace of vaccination in the United States, and advanced talks between the authorities there and the European Union over how to make vaccine certificates acceptable as proof of immunity for visitors, will enable the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, to recommend a switch in policy that could see trans-Atlantic leisure travel restored.

“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said Sunday in an interview with The Times in Brussels. “This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union.

“Because one thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by E.M.A.,” she added. The agency, the bloc’s drugs regulator, has approved all three vaccines being used in the United States, namely the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson shots.

Ms. von der Leyen did not offer a timeline for when exactly tourist travel might open up or details on how it would occur. But her comments are a top-level statement that the current travel restrictions are set to change on the basis of vaccination certificates.

Diplomats from Europe’s tourist destination countries, mostly led by Greece, have argued for weeks that the bloc’s criteria for determining whether a country is a “safe” origin purely based on low coronavirus cases are fast becoming irrelevant given the progress of vaccination campaigns in the United States, Britain and some other countries.

Dr. Linda Dahl at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, N.Y.
Credit…Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

Compliance practices at the Academy Awards on Sunday will be closely watched as organizers prepare for the gradual resumption of major events such as the Tonys (to be coordinated with Broadway’s reopening).

Part cop, part coach, Covid compliance officers, or C.C.O.s, have become essential overseers in America’s tentative return to prepandemic life.

“We’re at a tipping point,” said Dr. Blythe Adamson, an infectious disease epidemiologist and economist. “People are going out more, they have pandemic fatigue. They’re vaccinated, but people are still getting Covid with these new strains. It makes the compliance officer role extremely important.”

The budget for Covid compliance on film sets is high: 25 to 30 percent of the total, according to Dr. Linda Dahl, an ear, nose and throat surgeon who has become a C.C.O. Complicating the job, what constitutes Covid compliance can change on a weekly or even daily basis as guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention constantly evolve.

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