A Billion Shots Have Been Given, but Global Virus Cases Keep Rising

Here’s what you need to know: A Covid-19 patient waiting to be admitted to a hospital in South Delhi, India, on Saturday.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 continental 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.” Administering the AstraZeneca vaccine at the Milan military hospital last month.Credit...Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times BRUSSELS — The European Union has file

A Billion Shots Have Been Given, but Global Virus Cases Keep Rising
Here’s what you need to know: A Covid-19 patient waiting to be admitted to a hospital in South Delhi, India, on Saturday.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 continental 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.” Administering the AstraZeneca vaccine at the Milan military hospital last month.Credit...Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times BRUSSELS — The European Union has filed a lawsuit in Belgium against the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca over what it says is a breach of contract in the company’s delivery of Covid-19 vaccine, the European Commission announced on Monday. The bloc’s relationship with the company has soured rapidly since AstraZeneca said in January that it would not be able to deliver on its scheduled vaccine doses for the first quarter of the year, setting Europe’s vaccination campaign back by weeks as the commission, the E.U. executive branch, faced widespread criticism over a halting start. “The commission has started last Friday a legal action against the company AstraZeneca on the basis of breaches of the advanced purchase agreement,” said Stefan de Keersmaecker, a spokesman on health issues for the commission. “The reason indeed being that the terms of the contract, or some terms of the contract, have not been respected and the company has not been in a position to come up with a reliable strategy to ensure the timely delivery of doses.” Mr. de Keersmaecker said that all 27 E.U. member countries supported the move. The company said in a statement on Monday that it regretted the E.U.’s decision to sue. It said that it had fully complied with the agreement it signed and would “strongly defend itself in court.” “We believe any litigation is without merit,” the statement added. The two parties had been engaged in a dispute arbitration effort, but the European Union decided to move ahead with a legal case. The contract is under Belgian law. Our priority is to ensure #COVID19 vaccine deliveries take place to protect the health of