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COVID-19 deaths surpasses 700,000 mark in US: Johns Hopkins

2 Oct 2021 By AFP

Washington, US – COVID-19 fatalities in the US surpassed 700,000 on Friday, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University, a toll roughly equivalent to the population of the nation’s capital Washington.

The grim threshold comes with an average of well over 1,000 dying each day, in a country where 55.7 per cent of the population is now fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

After a heavily criticized early response to the pandemic, the United States organized an effective vaccine roll-out – only to see a significant portion of Americans still refusing to get the shots.

The United States finds itself having notched the most fatalities in the world, far exceeding other frontrunners such as Brazil and India, and facing a resurgence in cases due to the prominence of the highly contagious Delta variant.

While the latest global coronavirus wave peaked in late August, the virus continues to spread rapidly, particularly in the United States.

The vaccination campaign launched by US authorities in December – which had reached a peak in April, with sometimes more than four million injections per day – has meanwhile slowed considerably.

Coronavirus misinformation has been rampant in the country, and masking remains a political issue, dividing many Americans.

Some Republican governors, such as those in Texas and Florida, have sought to ban mandatory masking in their states, citing individual freedoms.

The Democratic state of California on the other hand announced on Friday that COVID vaccinations will be compulsory for all students.

In Washington, hundreds of thousands of white flags fluttered on the grass on the National Mall, not far from the White House, as somber reminders of those who have died of COVID in the United States.

Nearly 4.8mn people worldwide have died since the outbreak began in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally from official sources.

US to send 8mn jabs to Bangladesh, Philippines

The United States on Friday said it is sending more than eight million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Bangladesh and the Philippines in the latest wave of aid to a world still struggling to tame the pandemic.

Five shipments totalling 5,575,050 doses will go to the Philippines by next week, a White House official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another 2,508,480 doses will arrive early next week in Bangladesh, the official said.

The vaccines – all Pfizer-BioNTech – are being donated through the World Health Organization’s Covax programme.

The “administration understands that putting an end to this pandemic requires eliminating it around the world,” the official said, noting that US donations represent “the largest-ever purchase and donation of vaccines by a single country.”

Hard-hit Bangladesh has already received millions of US vaccine doses, including another 2.5mn sent just last week.

According to AFP’s database, only about ten per cent of Bangladesh’s population has been fully vaccinated.

The impoverished country of about 170mn people, which neighbours India, has imposed some of the world’s longest lockdowns in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The Philippines has recorded more than 2.5mn infections, including over 38,000 deaths. Just over a quarter of the adult population has been fully vaccinated amid a delayed and slow vaccination rollout.

Officials warn the economy could take more than a decade to recover from the pandemic impact, which has thrown millions out of work.

Nearly 70 per cent of the economy, including 23.3mn workers, remained under “heightened quarantine” restrictions, Economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said on Thursday.

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