Coronavirus - over 4 million dead

August 2021

By Milly Cunningham


On 30 July 2021 at 10.40 GMT, the Coronavirus Worldometer recorded that there had been 197,481,251 cases of Covid 19 world-wide, 4,217,762 deaths and 178,614,428 people had recovered.

In early July, World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that variants like Delta are ‘currently winning the race against vaccines’, pinning the blame on a lack of equitable vaccine production and distribution. During his biweekly conference in Geneva, he added that passing the four millionth recorded death worldwide from Covid-19 was a ‘tragic milestone’ which ‘likely underestimates the overall toll’. He warned that far too many countries are seeing ‘sharp spikes in cases and hospitalisation’ while rich nations with high inoculation rates were dropping public health measures ‘as though the pandemic is already over’. He condemned ‘vaccine nationalism’ where a handful of nations have taken the lion’s share as ‘morally indefensible’ and an ineffective public health strategy.

The Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, Dr Mike Ryan, told journalists, ‘Making assumptions that transmission is not going to increase because of vaccines is a false assumption. Transmission will increase when you open up because we don’t have vaccines [for all], and we are still not sure to what extent vaccination protects against the ability to be infected or have onward transmission.’ WHO Covid technical lead, epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, said the Delta variant had now been detected in 104 countries, the Alpha variant in 173, the Beta in 122, and the Gamma variant in 74. (1)

The Our World in Data project calculates that as of 29 June, just over 23% of the world’s population had had their first vaccine shot. But in low income countries only 0.9% of the population had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Ghebreyesus has described it as ‘vaccine apartheid’. (2)

Coronavirus data from Worldometer 29th July 2021



Deaths per million

Cases per million

Deaths that day

New cases that day

United Kingdom










































*These figures are likely to be significantly under-reported due to the political and social turmoil in Haiti


As can be seen in the figures in the table accompanying this article the UK has very high levels of infection and deaths due to coronavirus. As of 24 July, 55.9% of the UK population was fully vaccinated. In July a group of 122 scientists and doctors signed a letter to the Lancet urging the UK government not to reopen in England from 19 July, but to delay until everyone, including adolescents, had been offered vaccination and until mitigation measures such as adequate ventilation and spacing were in place in schools. (3) Experts said that opening up would allow the Delta variant and any new strains to spread rapidly round the globe due to the country’s role as an international travel hub. At a virtual event public health adviser to New Zealand’s government Professor Michael Baker said, ‘You’re not following even basic public health principles here.’  New Zealand had recorded fewer than 3,000 cases and only 26 deaths. (4)

Now that the variants have been renamed according to letters of the Greek alphabet, it is easy to forget that the Alpha variant, renamed by the World Health Organisation on 31 May 2021, was originally called the UK variant in many countries – in the UK named the Kent variant. It was detected in November 2020 from a sample taken in September 2020 in the UK. It began to spread quickly by mid-December, around the same time as infections surged. As well as resulting in thousands of deaths in the UK in the early part of 2021, it was the gift to the world resulting from the negligence of the British government in its failure to take the necessary actions to contain Covid-19.


Like the UK, the USA has experienced high levels of infections and deaths (see table). Telesur on 27 July reported: ‘Covid-19 cases are on the rise in nearly 90% of US jurisdictions, with outbreaks in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage, said the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in its latest weekly report.’ About 48.8% of the US population was fully vaccinated and 56.4% of the population had received at least one shot as of July 22. Vaccination resistance is blamed for these relatively low figures in one of the few countries with enough vaccines at its disposal to protect every resident. (5)


Japan was at the forefront of the world’s attention as the 2020 Olympics finally took place in Tokyo. The head of the Japan Doctors Union, Dr Naoto Ueyana, warned in advance that the Games would bring together in Tokyo ‘all of the different mutant strains of the virus which exist in different places’, risking the appearance of a new ‘Olympic’ strain. (6) Up till now Japan has experienced relatively lower levels of deaths and infections (see table). In Tokyo a state of emergency was declared from 12 July to 22 August, covering the period of the Games. The main focus was a request for bars, restaurants and karaoke parlours serving alcohol to close, and for people to watch the Games at home – spectators are barred in any case. Only 15% of Japanese people are fully vaccinated. (7)


China’s heroic and successful effort to contain Covid 19 in Wuhan in the early months of 2020 is now well known. As a result infection rates and deaths have been tiny compared to other countries (see table). On 17 July China Daily reported that China would provide another $3 billion in international aid over the next three years to support the Covid 19 response and economic and social recovery in other developing countries, as announced by President Xi Jinping in a speech delivered via video link at the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Informal Economic Leaders’ Retreat. China also declared that it supported waiving intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines; it has provided over 500 million doses of vaccine to other developing nations. (8)


Cuba too has done a good job of controlling the virus, though of late rates have gone up (see table). It has developed five candidate vaccines. The Cuban government plans to vaccinate three-quarters of the population by September. By early July, 2.23 million vaccines had been administered. The US blockade has affected Cuba’s ability to get the means to produce and administer the vaccines at the rate they want. Syringe manufacturers are connected in some way to the US pharmaceutical industry. (2) In response, six million syringes are being shipped from the US to Cuba, a gift from the US people, bought with fundraising efforts. The first shipment arrived on July 17 at Mariel port in Havana, the Cuban capital. (9)


Vietnam has been outstandingly successful in combating the virus (see table), but they are being stretched by the latest wave. WHO also reported in July that ‘due to global supply constraints, the vaccination rates are still low at about 4% of the population vaccinated to date and the number of infections rising sharply in the last few weeks.’ It also reported the country’s target of vaccinating more than 70% of the population by the end of the first quarter of 2022. (10)

In the meantime Vietnam, as it has from the start, is combatting the virus with stringent public health measures. Regular reports have appeared in Vietnam News. On 8 July we could read that Ho Chi Minh City would go into lockdown for 15 days from midnight that day, following Government Directive 16. Measures included: only leaving home to buy necessities, and keeping 2 metres distance if you have to; for factory workers, ensuring safe distance, wearing a face mask, and washing and sanitising hands. All non-essential services and businesses were closed, public transport stopped, food delivery services suspended with the authorities saying they would arrange food supply. On 19 July it was reported that two new field hospitals were being built in the city, expected to open in late July and August, catering for up to 6,000 patients. The 22 July report described how Ho Chi Minh City Resuscitation Hospital, full capacity 1000 intensive care beds, was working round the clock ‘to ensure that those who are seriously ill make a full recovery and keep the fatalities figures as low as possible’. 340 doctors, 1050 nurses, and 500 support staff included skilled doctors sent from the three big hospitals in the city.  The hospital was dealing with all severe and critical cases in the south.

On 13 July Vietnam News reported that, as Covid-19 cases reached record highs in Ho Chi Minh City, the authorities in Hanoi were taking no chances, and insisting that everyone who travelled to the capital from the southern hub would be tracked, tested and if necessary quarantined. Barbershops and dine-in restaurants were closed but deliveries were still available. On 14 July we learned that from midnight on 13 July, people going into Hanoi from other areas would need to present necessary documents and undergo virus prevention procedures at 22 checkpoints set up round the edge of the city. On 24 July Hanoi entered a 15-day social distancing period, and all delivery services were halted by the city’s transport department. On 26 July the Army’s Chemical Brigade sprayed disinfectant around the capital city making sure to get ‘into every nook and cranny in some of the smaller streets around the Old Quarter’ with staff already having experience of spraying many times.

Good luck and best wishes Vietnam in your heroic efforts! 


Finally, in this small selection, Haiti. Although it appears to have relatively small numbers of infections and deaths, this could well be a case of deaths being under reported due to the political and social turmoil in the country. The WHO reports that on 14 July, Haiti received 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines donated by the US government through the COVAX facility.  Dr Marie Greta Roy Clement, Haiti’s Minister of Public Health and Population, said, ‘This first allocation of vaccines puts an end to a long period of waiting not only for the Haitian population but also for the people of the region who were very concerned that Haiti was the only country in the Americas that had not yet introduced the Covid-19 vaccine.’ WHO reports that only about 14% of the total population in the Caribbean and Latin America have completed their vaccination schedule, and some countries have not yet been able to vaccinate more than 1% of their population. (10)

Vaccine apartheid indeed.    

(1) Covid variants ‘winning the race against vaccines’ warns WHO chief, United Nations News, 7/7/21.

(2) Tricontinental, Vijay Prashad, 1/7/21.

(3) Covid-19: Ending all restrictions in England on 19 July ‘dangerous and premature’ say experts, British Medical Journal, 9/7/21.

(4) A threat to the whole world, Morning Star, 16/7/21.

(5) Delta Variant and Misinformation Fuel Covid-19 Surge in the US, Telesur, 27/7/21.

(6) Covid’s ‘Olympic’ Strain Feared During Summer Tokyo Games, Telesur, 27/5/21.

(7) Japan declares state of emergency in Tokyo through Olympics due to Covid-19 surge, ESPN, 8/7/21.

(8) Xi unveils $3 billion global aid package, Xu Wei, China Daily, 17/7/21.

(9) Cuba Thanks US Citizens for Sending Six Million Syringes, Telesur, 22/7/21.

(10) World Health Organisation – Weekly Operational Update on Covid-19, 20/7/21.

SARS-CoV-2 photo by Alexey Solodovnikov