On July 20th, an analysis that was published of India’s “excess mortality estimates from three different data sources from the pandemic’s start through June 2021 … yields an estimate of 4.9 million excess deaths.” As-of July 20th, the total number of deaths that had been officially reported worldwide from Covid-19 was 4,115,391, and only 414,513 (10%) of those were in India. If this new study is correct, then the possibility exists that around half of all deaths that have occurred, thus far, from Covid-19, could be in India, not merely the currently existing 10% that’s shown in the official figures.
This study doesn’t discuss why the actual number of deaths in India from Covid-19 might be around ten times higher than the official Indian figures, but one reason might be a false attribution of India’s greatly increased death-rate from the Covid-19 epidemic not to Covid-19 but to other causes, such as to Covid-19-related illnesses.
The new study is titled “Three New Estimates of India’s All-Cause Excess Mortality during the COVID-19 Pandemic”, and the detailed version of it can be downloaded here. The study was funded by U.S.-and-allied billionaires and their foundations and corporations, and by governments that those billionaires also might control. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that its methodology is in any way unscientific or otherwise dubious. The study raises serious questions — it does not, in and of itself, answer any. It’s a serious scientific study.
On 1 August 2020, I headlined “India and Brazil Are Now the Global Worst Coronavirus Nations”, and reported that, “India and Brazil have now overtaken the United States as the world’s worst performers at controlling the cononavirus-19 plague. The chart of the numbers of daily new cases in India shows the daily count soaring more than in any other country except Brazil, whereas in the United States, the daily number of new cases has plateaued ever since it hit 72,278 on July 10th, three weeks ago.” At that time, there was great pressure upon India’s Government to stop the alarming acceleration in the daily numbers of people who were officially counted as being patients (active cases) from the disease, and of dying from it. One way that a government can deal with such pressures is by mis-classifying cases, and deaths, from a disease, as being due to other causes, instead.
Sharp rise in Africa COVID-19 deaths
COVID-19 deaths in Africa have risen sharply in recent weeks, amid the fastest surge in cases the continent has seen so far in the pandemic, the regional office for the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
Fatalities are rising as hospital admissions increase rapidly as countries face shortages in oxygen and intensive care beds.
COVID-19 deaths rose by more than 40 per cent last week, reaching 6,273, or nearly 1,900 more than the previous week.
The number is just shy of the 6,294 peak, recorded in January.
Reaching ‘breaking point’
“Deaths have climbed steeply for the past five weeks. This is a clear warning sign that hospitals in the most impacted countries are reaching a breaking point,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
“Under-resourced health systems in countries are facing dire shortages of the health workers, supplies, equipment and infrastructure needed to provide care to severely ill COVID-19 patients.”
Africa’s case fatality rate, which is the proportion of deaths among confirmed cases, stands at 2.6 per cent compared to the global average of 2.2 per cent.
Most of the recent deaths, or 83 per cent, occurred in Namibia, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.
Six million cases
COVID-19 cases on the continent have risen for eight consecutive weeks, topping six million on Tuesday, WHO reported.
An additional one million cases were recorded over the past month, marking the shortest time to reach this grim milestone. Comparatively, it took roughly three months for cases to jump from four million to five million.
Delta, variants drive surge
The surge is being driven by public fatigue with key health measures and an increased spread of virus variants.
The Delta variant, the most transmissible, has been detected in 21 countries, while the Alpha and Beta variants have been found in more than 30 countries each.
Globally, there are four COVID-19 virus variants of concern. On Wednesday, a WHO emergency committee meeting in Geneva warned of the “strong likelihood” of new and possibly more dangerous variants emerging and spreading.
Delivering effective treatment
WHO is working with African countries to improve COVID-19 treatment and critical care capacities.
The UN agency and partners are also delivering oxygen cylinders and other essential medical supplies, and have supported the manufacture and repair of oxygen production plants.
“The number one priority for African countries is boosting oxygen production to give critically ill patients a fighting chance,” Dr Moeti said. “Effective treatment is the last line of defence against COVID-19 and it must not crumble.”
The rising caseload comes amid inadequate vaccine supplies. So far, 52 million people in Africa have been inoculated, which is just 1.6 per cent of total COVID-19 vaccinations worldwide.
Meanwhile, roughly 1.5 per cent of the continent’s population, or 18 million people, are fully vaccinated, compared with over 50 per cent in some high-income countries.
Child mental health crisis ‘magnified’ by COVID
Half of the world’s children experience violence on and offline in some form every year, with “devastating and life-long consequences” for their mental health, the UN chief warned a symposium on the issue on Thursday.
In a video address to an event organized within the on-going High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), on mental health and wellbeing, he said that mental health services have long suffered from neglect and underinvestment, with “too few children” accessing the services they need.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the problem. Millions of children are out of school, increasing their vulnerability to violence and mental stress, while services have been cut or moved online.
“As we consider investing in a strong recovery, support for children’s mental wellbeing must be a priority”, said Secretary-General António Guterres.
“I also urge governments to take a preventive approach by addressing the determinants of mental well-being through robust social protection for children and families”, he added, saying that mental health and psychosocial support, together with community-based approaches to care, are “integral to universal health coverage. They cannot be its forgotten part.”
Child’s view paramount
He also urged authorities everywhere to take the views and lived-experiences of children themselves, exposed to increasing on and offline threats, into account when formulating policies and protection strategies.
“Children play an important role in supporting each other’s mental wellbeing. They must be empowered as part of the solution. Let’s work together for sustainable, people-centered, resilient societies, where all children live free from violence and with the highest standards of mental health”, he concluded.
The meeting co-organized with the Permanent Mission of Belgium to the United Nations, and the Group of Friends on mental health and wellbeing, featured a video with contributions from children from 19 countries who took action to support one another.
UN Special Representative on Violence Against Children, Maalla M’jid, highlighted the devastating impact of violence on the mental health of children: “Exposure to violence and other adverse childhood experiences can evoke toxic responses to stress that cause both immediate and long-term physiological and psychological damage.
“In addition to the human cost, the economic cost of mental illness is significant”, she added.
Opportunity for change
The recovery phase of the pandemic, provides an opportunity for countries to invest in this field, she said, emphasizing that “we cannot go back to normal. Because what was ‘normal’ before the pandemic was not good enough, with countries spending on average only 2% of their health budgets on mental health.
“In addition to more investment, we need to change our approach to mental health. Building on the lessons of the pandemic, mental health and child protection services must be recognized as life-saving and essential.
“They must be incorporated into both emergency preparedness and longer-term planning and children must also shape the design, delivery and evaluation of responses”, she added.
The meeting contributed to raising awareness of the impact of violence on the mental health of children, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Examples were shared of effective approaches to supporting children’s mental health from different regions and in different settings; to identify what steps are needed to embed mental health best practices; put child protection and social protection services into action to build back better after the pandemic, while also supporting the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs by 2030.
COVID variants ‘winning the race against vaccines’
Variants like Delta are “currently winning the race against vaccines” said the World Health Organization (WHO) chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday, pinning the blame squarely on a lack of equitable vaccine production and distribution.
During his biweekly conference in Geneva, he added that passing the four millionth recorded death worldwide from COVID-19 was a “tragic milestone” which “likely underestimates the overall toll” of the deadly virus.
Tedros warned that far too many countries are seeing “sharp spikes in cases and hospitalization”, while rich nations with high inoculation rates, were dropping public health measures “as though the pandemic is already over.”
A wave of death
The situation is leading to an acute shortage of oxygen and treatments, and driving a ‘wave of death’ in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
“At this stage in the pandemic, the fact that millions of health and care workers have still not been vaccinated is abhorrent”, he added.
Tedros reminded that ‘vaccine nationalism’, where a handful of nations have taken the lion’s share, is ‘morally indefensible’ and an ineffective public health strategy against a respiratory virus that is mutating quickly and becoming increasingly successful at infecting new hosts.
“Variants are currently winning the race against vaccines because of inequitable vaccine production and distribution…It didn’t have to be this way and it doesn’t have to be this way going forward”, he underscored.
He said the spread of variants would also threaten the global economic recovery, noting that from a “moral, epidemiological or economic” standpoint, now is the time for the world to come together.
Tedros called on leaders of the G20 economies, set to meet later this week, to take urgent steps to end the acute stage of the pandemic, providing the necessary funding to scale up equitable manufacturing and distribution of health tools.
No ‘flat curve’ yet
The Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, Dr. Mike Ryan, told journalists that while it has been good to see a drop in hospitalizations in countries with high levels of vaccination, this still should be “a moment for extreme caution for countries right now”.
“[Almost] all the regions had an increase in cases in the last week…this is not a flat curve; this is an increasing curve. Making assumptions that transmission is not going to increase because of vaccines is a false assumption.
“Transmission will increase when you open up because we don’t have vaccines (for all) and we are still not sure to what extent vaccination protects against the ability to be infected or have onward transmission”, he explained.
Dr. Ryan added that with increased transmission in the community, the most vulnerable- the older and people with underlying conditions- will be at risk, especially in countries where vaccination programmes have not reach them yet.
There are more two dozen countries that have epidemic curves which are “almost vertical right now…This is not the situation we should be in, when we have tools right now”, WHO COVID technical lead, Maria Van Kerkhove also warned.
The epidemiologist said the Delta variant has been now detected in 104 countries; the Alpha variant in 173; the Beta in 122; and the Gamma variant in 74.
“Some countries have all four of these variants of concern circulating. The Delta variant has even more increased transmissibility than the Alpha variant. If that virus takes hold, it will spread”, she cautioned.
She reminded that the virus continues to mutate and change, including the Delta variant, but said that “we can still have the upper hand”.
“Let’s use the tools that we already have to keep transmission down. Be safe, be smart…the virus has a hold over us right now and we need to regain control”, she underscored.
The latest numbers
Last week, the number of new COVID cases increased slightly, while the number of new deaths continued to decrease, with over 2.6 million new cases and just under 54,000 new deaths reported globally. This is the lowest weekly mortality figure since early October 2020, according to the weekly WHO epidemiological update.
The cumulative number of cases reported globally now exceeds 183 million.
Last week, all regions reported an increase in new cases except for the Americas. The European Region reported a sharp increase in incidence (30%) whereas African region reported a sharp increase in mortality (23%) when compared to the previous week. All Regions, except for the Americas and South-East Asia, reported an increase in the number of deaths.
IRENA Outlines Action Agenda on Offshore Renewables for G20
Boosting offshore renewables will accelerate the energy transition and allow G20 countries to build a resilient and sustainable energy system,...
Commission overhauls anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism rules
The European Commission has today presented an ambitious package of legislative proposals to strengthen the EU’s anti-money laundering and countering...
Empowering “Smart Cities” toward net zero emissions
The world’s cities can play a central role to accelerate progress towards clean, low-carbon, resilient and inclusive energy systems. This...
Crime of Ecocide: Greening the International Criminal Law
In June 2021, an Independent Expert Panel under the aegis of Stop Ecocide Foundation presented a newly-drafted definition for the...
Indictment of Trump associate threatens UAE lobbying success
This month’s indictment of a billionaire, one-time advisor and close associate of former US President Donald J. Trump, on charges...
Climate change could spark floods in world’s largest desert lake
For years it appeared as though Lake Turkana, which sits in an arid part of northern Kenya, was drying up....
Sweden: Invest in skills and the digital economy to bolster the recovery from COVID-19
Sweden’s economy is on the road to recovery from the shock of the COVID-19 crisis, yet risks remain. Moving ahead...
Intelligence3 days ago
USA and Australia Worry About Cyber Attacks from China Amidst Pegasus Spyware
Middle East2 days ago
A New Era in US-Jordan Relations
Development2 days ago
10 new cities chosen for World Economic Forum circular economy initiative
Europe3 days ago
NATO’s Cypriot Trick
Economy3 days ago
The EU wants to cut emissions, Bulgaria and Eastern Europe will bear the price
Americas2 days ago
Sea Breeze 2021: U.S. is worryingly heading closer to conflict with Russia in the Black Sea
Green Planet3 days ago
Reusing 10% Will Stop Almost Half of Plastic Waste From Entering the Ocean
Central Asia2 days ago
Power without Soft Power: China’s Outreach to Central Asia