Coronavirus Update: WHO highlights that Europe is only region with rising COVID cases and deaths, as Russia overtakes U.S. for most fatalities in a week
The World Health Organization highlighted Wednesday that Europe was the only region showing rising cases and deaths from the coronavirus-borne illness COVID-19 in the latest week, led by Russia, where low vaccine take-up is causing about 1,200 deaths a day.
Russia counted 281,305 new cases in the week to Nov. 7, according to the agency’s weekly epidemiological update, or 371.4 new cases per 100,000 residents. There were 8,276 new fatalities in Russia in the week, or 5.7 new deaths per 100,000 residents, little changed from the prior week.
Russia set yet another one-day record death toll on Wednesday of 1,239, and is now leading the world by weekly deaths for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the Moscow Times reported.
The developer of Russia’s vaccine dubbed Sputnik V has said Moscow should mandate vaccines, which remain low even as patients continue to die. St. Petersburg on Monday mandated vaccines for everyone above the age of 60 and for people with chronic illnesses.
“Vaccinations should be mandatory,” Alexander Gintsburg, the director of the state-run Gamaleya research center that developed Sputnik V, said in an interview with government paper Rossiyskaya Gazeta. He said the country needs to get to a vaccination rate of 70% to 75% to control and spread. Right now, just 34.6% of Russians are fully inoculated, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Elsewhere in Europe, Greek hospitals are filling rapidly as that country sees a fresh surge of cases, and France is pushing its booster program aggressively. Greece counted 8,613 new case in the last day, and they have more than doubled in less than two weeks, according to the Guardian.
French President Emmanuel Macron has told people over 65 they will need to get a booster shot by mid-December to keep their vaccine pass valid. The pass allows people to go to restaurants, bars and cafes.
In the U.S., deaths are still averaging more than 1,200 a day, as they have for weeks, according to a New York Times tracker. And while cases have come down, they are still averaging more than 70,000 a day and almost 50,000 patients are being hospitalized every day on average.
New Mexico has emerged as a hot spot, along with Colorado and California, and hospitals there are becoming overwhelmed, the New York Times reported. New cases per person have climbed 48% in New Mexico in the past two weeks, outpacing the nationwide average of 6%.
The news is especially grim given that New Mexico has a high vaccination rate of 63%, above the national average of 58%, after it led the way early in the program. But more than 70% of the hospitalized patients are unvaccinated, underlining the importance of getting the shots. And Dr. David R. Scrase, New Mexico’s health and human services secretary, told the paper that as first to vaccinate, “we’re going to be the first one to experience the waning immunity.”
Elsewhere, Germany is recommending that people under 30 only receive the vaccine developed by Pfizer
and German partner BioNTech
as the Moderna
shot appears to cause more cases of heart inflammation, albeit those are still rare, Reuters reported.
Germany is also seeing a big surge in new cases, setting a one-day record Wednesday of 39,676, its third straight record day.
Back home, the NFL fined the Green Bay Packers $300,000 and issued $14,650 fines to quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Allen Lazard for violations of league and players’ union protocols by failing to get vaccinated, the Associated Press reported. ESPN first reported the fines.
Actor Matthew McConaughey has been criticized by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy for revealing he has not vaccinated his youngest children and wants more information before doing so, the Washington Post reported.
“If you are a parent out there and you have got questions, that’s OK to have questions,” Murthy told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “But talk to your doctor, consult credible health sources and recognize this is our opportunity to protect our kids and to get them back to so many things they missed out on.”
Covid-19 “is not harmless in our children,” he added. “Many kids have died. Sadly, hundreds of children, thousands have been hospitalized.”
The global tally for the coronavirus-borne illness climbed above 251 million on Wednesday, while the death toll edged above 5.06 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. continues to lead the world with a total of 46.7 million cases and 757,419 deaths.
India is second by cases after the U.S. at 34.4 million and has suffered 461,849 deaths. Brazil has second highest death toll at 609,756 and 21.9 million cases.
In Europe, Russia has the most fatalities at 245,794 deaths, followed by the U.K. at 142,557.
China, where the virus was first discovered late in 2019, has had 110,386 confirmed cases and 4,809 deaths, according to its official numbers, which are widely held to be massively understated.