It was just the first days of 2020 when the international press began to document a new coronavirus in China. The planet watched, at that time, with expectation the news coming from Asia about the virus and without imagining that those first cases would the prelude to a pandemic that would change the entire world this year.
Nine months after zero hour of the coronavirus in Wuhan (China) – where the virus broke out precisely – world authorities say that covid-19 has already killed one million people. A figure that, although symbolic, portrays the loss of hundreds of thousands of human lives. Despite the tragic number, the pandemic is far from over.
In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) called in recent days for more efforts to prevent the death toll from doubling in 2021, while calls for an equitable distribution of future vaccines increase.
“The figure is unimaginable, but not impossible”, acknowledged at a press conference the director of Emergencies of the WHO, Mike Ryan, who stressed that “a first million deaths is already a terrible number and we must reflect on what to do now, before thinking for a second (million victims) ”.
Ryan even appealed to maintain all current tools, from case tracking and treatment to initial prevention measures, and asked to continue international cooperation in the investigation against covid-19 so that the figure of two million deaths is not something likely.
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He also recalled that the fatality rates of the disease (today around 0.5 percent, when in the first months of the year they were up to four times higher) have fallen thanks to the improvement in the treatment of serious cases in ICUs.
Race for the vaccine
Although WHO epidemiologist Bruce Aylward said that “Even when we have the vaccine, people can continue to die awaiting its arrival”, the world continues to expect that the big pharmaceutical companies and laboratories of the world will find an effective and safe treatment against the disease.
However, the most optimistic forecasts suggest that the vaccine may take another nine months. For this reason, efforts have multiplied to obtain a vaccine, with eleven candidates in the final phase of clinical trials., as well as the controversy about who will receive those long-awaited doses first in the event that a project is completed.
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“Whoever finds the vaccine must share it … It is a global responsibility and it is a moral responsibility”Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a virtual message at the UN General Assembly on Friday.
“Some may see an advantage in the short term, but I guarantee it, humanity will have a very long memory and will be a very very severe judge,” he warned.
The vaccine race has already started and each country wants to make sure that its population can have sufficient doses. The United States, Europe and Japan have already reserved more than half of the doses that would be available initially.
Amid their limited resources, Latin American countries became involved in the vaccine development process, participating in clinical studies and managing their adherence to the mechanism Covax, coordinated by the WHO and which seeks to guarantee access to a possible vaccine.
The WHO announced this week the initial list of 156 countries (including Colombia) that have joined the Covax network, in which, however, China and the United States are conspicuous by their absence.
Through Covax, participating countries will be guaranteed initial doses to cover at least 3 percent of their population in the early stages of deployment of the vaccine, reaching finally to 20 percent of its population, enough to protect those most at risk of severe covid-19.
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In total, the new coronavirus has claimed 998,463 lives and more than 32.9 million people have been infected and more than 22 million recovered, according to an AFP balance yesterday, at the close of this edition (see graphs). And with these numbers, it is most likely that the million figure will be reached in the updates of the next counts.
How does Colombia fit into this world panorama? In cases of contagion, Colombia is in the fifth position with the most positive cases detected in the world, with a total of 813,056, while the number of deaths is 25,488.
Meanwhile, Latin America also continues to experience high mortality, because while the global average is 13 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, in this region it is 53 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. In fact, on Friday it was known that the pandemic exceeded 75,000 deaths in Mexico, the fourth country with the most deaths from covid-19 in the world.
Another disappointing mark was reported in the United States, which surpassed 7 million cases of coronavirus this Friday, just two days after having exceeded the barrier of 200,000 deaths from covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. In this way, the coronavirus has already killed more people in The United States than the total number of citizens of that country who died on the battlefield during the Vietnam and Korean wars, for example.
* WITH INFORMATION FROM AGENCIES