The world reaches 4 million deaths from Covid with infections on the rise from the Indian variant

For the first time in two months, the cases of new Covid infections this week exceed those of the previous one globally.

Sequencing of Covid samples in the Microbiology laboratory of the University Hospital of Badajoz.  EP/Javier Octopus

Exactly two months have had to pass for Spain to touch 10,000 daily cases again. The figure in itself is worrying but it is even more so when viewed in perspective: on Wednesday of last week they were less than half. Our country is entering the dynamic that India entered in May and the United Kingdom in June.

It’s a bad dynamic, no matter how much we nuance it. It clearly indicates that the Delta variant is extremely contagious: the 14-day cumulative incidence is placed in 117.17 cases per 100,000 inhabitants but it is likely that next week we will get dangerously close to the 150 or even cross this “high risk” threshold.

Why can we make this claim? Because we already far exceeded that incidence in the age group from 12 to 29 yearsbordering on 300 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Even if we continue to vaccinate at a good pace, that group still has a long way to go until it reaches sufficient immunity.

Some autonomous communities, such as the Balearic Islands, have started running a campaign to vaccinate young people, but it will take at least a month to see visible results. Other communities are not even considering it. In Cantabria, for example, the incidence between 20 and 29 years exceeds 700 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

We are therefore faced with a very powerful enemy. Probably more powerful than we thought, and we will have to fight it with all our scientific weapons. The “Indian strain” is very contagious… but it does not escape the action of vaccines, or at least not those of RNA such as Pfizer or Moderna.

The incidence among those over 70 years of age, who in principle are all vaccinated with the two doses, it does not reach 20 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. That, at a time when life is practically normal in Spain and the virus seems completely a thing of the past.

Evolution of the incidence of Covid by age groups.

Evolution of the incidence of Covid by age groups.

It is always insisted that despite the rise in cases, those hospitalized are few and even fewer the dead. This is true and we have repeated it many times here, but Covid is not the typical disease that one wants to risk having “because, in short, I am not going to end up in the ICU”.

Socially, in hospital terms at least, this uptick, which points to violent, It is not going to be a fourth or a fifth of what the previous three were. Now, if this is so, I insist, it is exclusively due to the action of vaccines… and there are about 28 million citizens still to complete the protocol.

In fact, if we look around us, we see what happens when heThe vaccination campaign does not work quickly enough or has been forced to resort to brands such as the Russian Sputnik or the Chinese Coronavac and Sinopharm. Three laboratory vaccines that are still not approved by the European Medicines Agency.

In no case can it be happily affirmed that they do not work: without a doubt, they protect a good part of the population… but not as much as Pfizer, Moderna or Astra Zeneca do. All in all, it looks like if there weren’t such affordable vaccines for developing countries, the world would be experiencing a real massacre right now.

That said, let’s acknowledge that some countries are doing better than others in this fight against the Delta variant. In Europe, we have the British or the Portuguese example, whereby a huge activation of cases and infections does not produce the same increase in hospitalized or deceased.

It is not that there are not, eye, let’s be careful with this: The United Kingdom has doubled its number of admissions in a monthwhat happens is that it has multiplied by four its number of cases, so one thing has not gone at the same speed as the other.

As for the daily deceased, they move around twenty when they barely exceeded ten at the beginning of June. It is easy to say that they have doubled their figures, but they are such small numbers that sticking to percentages is a bit tricky.

In Russia, however, we do not see this pattern. Russia has had a huge problem when it comes to making its population aware of the need to be vaccinated: only 11% of Russians have the complete guideline and that is more than a hundred million exposed citizens. In addition, the very laboratory that created the Sputnik vaccine acknowledged yesterday that it was somewhat less effective against the Delta variant.

Probably, the mixture of both factors explains why the country presided over by Vladimir Putin is beating records of deaths in the middle of summer 2021 (599 per day in the weekly average) when it still does not reach the number of cases that we saw in the terrible wave of January. The problem, furthermore, is that the trend is very worrying, as can be seen in the graph below.

Mortality per million inhabitants in Russia compared to Portugal and the United Kingdom.

Mortality per million inhabitants in Russia compared to Portugal and the United Kingdom.
Our World in Data

Something similar is happening in Latin America and especially in Colombia. On June 27, the weekly record for deaths was reached, with an average of 678 daily. Colombia has about a third of the population of Russia, to put it in perspective. How is it possible for this to happen in a country that, although administering Coronavac, bases its program on the same vaccines as Europe and the United States?

We found the solution in their number of vaccinated: only 12% of the population has the complete guideline. If we mix the winter and cold factors with an explosive variant and low vaccination, we have a very, very serious problem.

Something similar is being seen in Africa, where cases have increased 34% from one week to another, according to WHO figures. The problem with the African continent is that we have never had reliable data on how the virus has affected a largely young population. We do not know if age has influenced their low number of deaths, if they were simply not counting or if they were not correctly reporting these deaths due to bureaucratic or purely political factors.

The weekly increase in deaths in the bulk of the continent is 44%, although on a very small basis, as it happened to us in the United Kingdom. Still, with very few vaccines given, there is every reason to worry.

Definitely, the Delta variant is already all over the world and its impact is clearly noticeable in incidents: for the first time in two months, this week’s cases exceed those of the previous one globally.

At the moment, most countries are avoiding hospital chaos and the explosion of deaths, but if they want to continue like this, they are going to have to take very restrictive measures or vaccinate at full speedsomething that, as we see, not everyone is achieving, especially in countries where vaccination is optional and the Government does not press too hard either.

We are just 40,000 dead from reaching four million since the pandemic began. Four million in just under a year and a half. Impossible to forget how we were shaken to hear about the first three thousand in China or how in those first days of March we counted each death in our country with a heavy heart.

We have become accustomed to the coronavirus and that the coronavirus insists on surprising us. The fight against the Delta variant looks like it has just started globally. That’s the bad new. The good news is that it is a fight that will end up being won if people are vaccinated soon and well.

In any case, this reminds us that we cannot lower our guard and that the virus is far from extinct. It may be that the most advanced societies, with more effective vaccines and greater bureaucratic capacity to administer them, see the future with some optimism – these upturns in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain and Russia are not the norm even in Europe – but other countries are going to have a really bad time.

Returning to our country, as we mentioned on Tuesday, crossing the border of ten thousand cases a day and approach next week to fifteen thousand or more supposes again the saturation of Primary Care, the basic pillar of our Health model.

We are very tired after this year and a half and we all think we have earned a good summer, but let’s not take it too far. It is not only a matter of relaxing the rules but of respect and be scrupulous with those that remain in force. It is not always happening and that is dangerous.

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