On Tuesday Jan 26th, an AFP tally reports that over 100 million COVID-19 cases have now been recorded worldwide. The news comes as measures to ramp up the struggling US vaccine program are put in place. Newly inaugurated President Joe Biden has made a pledge to speed things up.
The figures are compiled from data obtained from national health agencies. However, many of the infected go undetected and unrecorded. So the number of reported cases may just be a fraction of the actual infections figures.
The US remains the country with the largest outbreak. As of last weekend, there were more than 25 million confirmed cases. The US also has the highest death toll, which is over 420,000 persons.
During Donald Trump’s presidency, COVID-19 risks were downplayed, and officials gave mixed messages on mask-wearing and socialising. Due to this, overturning the fight against the virus is Biden’s current priority. COVID-19 has taken a ferocious grip on the country’s people and its economy.
The program left by the Trump administration “was in worse shape than we anticipated or expected” according to Biden. He says it’s a daunting challenge to vaccinate the entire US population.
While announcing the US is buying an additional 200 million doses, Biden said “This is a war-time undertaking. It’s not hyperbole.” By early fall, the US will have enough supply to vaccinate 300 million Americans according to Biden. This will cover nearly all its citizens.
Other European nations intends to tighten their borders to curb the spread of more contagious strains of the virus. The death figure from COVID-19 in the United Kingdom has surged past 100,000.
The loss felt by British families was “hard to compute” for Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The UK is the first European country to surpass the 100,000 mark in relation to COVID-19 deaths.
Boris claims his government “did everything that we could to minimise suffering and minimise loss of life.” His government faces wide criticism over its initial response to the outbreak.
A new variant that emerged in the UK before Christmas is causing a brutal third wave in the UK. Containing the new wave is an ongoing struggle for the British government.
On Tuesday, mandatory travel quarantines would be enacted by Ireland for the first time. The country will also see an extension of their third national lockdown until Mar 5th as well.
Germany is looking to strengthen border controls along with other European nations. Fear of the new UK variant is making the German government consider halting all flights into the country.
The German Bild newspaper was informed by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer that“The danger from the numerous virus mutations forces us to consider drastic measures.”
Iceland issues its citizens vaccination certificates to ease travel for those who have taken both the required doses.
Riots over lockdowns
Anger rises along with the implementation of new measures to curb COVID-19. As such, nightly riots are taking place in the Netherlands over a curfew imposition last Saturday.
The Dutch government said it will not back down on curfew restrictions. The worst unrest to hit the country in four decades has seen arrests of over 400 people.
Calling the rioters “scum”, Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said “ You don’t capitulate to people who smash shop windows.”
There were demonstrations by ultra-Orthodox Jews against lockdown measures. This led to the arrest of 14 people by the Israeli police during clashes with protesters.
The world is looking to vaccines to curb the coronavirus as the global death toll stands at 2.1 million. However the allocation of vaccine doses has led to intense bickering between countries and pharmaceuticals.
The European Union has faced tensions that has only kept accumulating. Delays to deliveries by pharmaceutical companies have only worsened the already tense situation.
In the recent virtual World Economic Forum (WEF), EU chief, Ursula von der Leyen, said “Europe invested billions to help develop the world’s first COVID-19 vaccines.” “And now, the companies must deliver. They must honour their obligations.”
European pharmaceutical giant, AstraZeneca, says it would not be able to meet its production schedules. Their announcement came a week after US pharma group Pfizer said their there will be a delay in their delivery volumes.
27th January 2021 23:00
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