India, Brazil fuel surge in COVID-19 cases, deaths in world

By Allen Cone
India, Brazil fuel surge in COVID-19 cases, deaths in world
A woman undergoes a COVID-19 swab test at a roadside in Bhopal, India, on Saturday. Photo by Sanjeev Gupta/EFE-EPA

April 11 (UPI) -- India and Brazil are dominating a surge in COVID-19 deaths and cases as nations around the world are ramping up vaccinations in efforts to curb the pandemic amid restrictions, including lockdowns.

With global deaths at 2,949,161 and cases at 136,628,506 on Sunday, according to tracking, the two counties 9,188 miles apart on opposite sides of the globe have been setting records.


The United States for months has led the world in fatalities, at 562,064, and infections at 31,196,121, according to Johns Hopkins tracking. But with nearly 50% of the adult population receiving at least one vaccine dose, numbers are way off record highs.

In India, the nation has surpassed its cases record six times in one week, including 152,879 Sunday. No other country has as many reported cases in one day except for the U.S. with double that amount in January.


Amid the surging cases, India has banned the export of anti-viral drug remdesivir and its active pharmaceutical ingredients, a statement from the country's health ministry said Sunday. This is the administered to Donald Trump last year when he was president.

India ranks third in the world for cases, 13,358,805, growing by 873,296 in one week. India represents 19% of the world's weekly growth of 4.6 million with the global increase at 3.5%. Until this past week, the nation's single-day record was 97,859 in September.

India is fourth in the world in deaths at 169,275, including 839 Sunday, which is the most in six months and off the record 1,283. The nation's increase was 2.8%, close to the world rate of 2.6%, or 74,340.

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Brazil has far exceeded that percentage, growing by 26.8% with a gain of 20,939 deaths in one week. That includes surpassing 4,000 for the first time twice last week, 4,211 Tuesday and 4,190 Thursday. Saturday's increase was 2,535.

The South American nation's cases in the past week are off the record 97,586 March 25. The high was 90,973 Wednesday with 69,592 Saturday and 37,537 Sunday.

Brazil and India are lagging in administering the vaccine. Just 6.5% of India's population, which is the second-largest in the world behind China, have received at least one dose and 0.9% are fully vaccinated since the effort began Jan. 16. Yet, India is a prime manufacturer of vaccines for the world.


In Brazil, it's 10.7% with one dose and 3.2% fully vaccinated.

Conversely, the United States has vaccinated 35.3% with at least one dose and 21.3% fully.

"We should ensure optimum utilization of our vaccination capacity," said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who on Thursday received his mandatory second dose of the vaccine.

He called for a "vaccination festival" from Sunday through Wednesday.

In hard-hit Maharashtra, health minister Rajesh Tope noted dwindling vaccine supplies in the state, including the financial hub of Mumbai.

People 45 and older are eligible for vaccine shots. Vaccines being administered are Covishield, the local name of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin, developed by Indian drugmaker Bharat Biotech.

The top vaccine makers are U.S.-based Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, both based in the United States, as well as AstraZeneca.

China and Russia also have developed vaccines.

Brazil produces the AstraZeneca vaccine but the facility has been hampered with not enough active ingredients.

Vaccinations also are lagging in Brazil though the nation has ordered enough doses to vaccinate its entire population of 213.7 million. But the bulk of 100 million doses of Pfizer's vaccine recently ordered won't arrive until the second half of the year.


"The country is in a nationwide hospital collapse right now -- it's the first time in history the public health system has collapsed," Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, a Brazilian professor of neuroscience at Duke University, told the BBC. "If we can acquire the vaccine in large quantities, we could at least mitigate the situation."

President Jair Bolsonaro, who contracted the virus himself, has dismissed opportunities to buy more doses and has refused to be vaccinated.

Brazil is lagging behind other South American nations in vaccinations, including Chile at 38.5% of its 19.3 million population receiving at least one shot. Chile ranks 22nd in the world in fatalities at 24,346.

In South America, four nations are in the top 20 for most deaths. Besides Brazil, Colombia is in 11th with 65,889, Argentina in 14th with 57,779 and Peru in 15th with 54,903.

In all, the continent's death toll is 594,543 and 22,496,764 cases.

Asia has recorded 448,640 deaths and is fourth, and 31,228,210 cases, which is third.

COVID-19 originated in Mainland China, but the nation has reported only a few deaths in the past 12 months and stands in 57th at 4,636 behind Honduras with 4,770. China added 10 cases Sunday.


China is working "to solve the problem that the efficacy of its existing vaccines is not high," Gao Fu, the director of the China Centers for Disease Control, said at a conference Saturday in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

"The levels of antibodies generated by our vaccines are lower than mRNA vaccines and the efficacy data are also lower," said Tao Lina, a Shanghai-based vaccine expert who was present at the conference."

Sinovac's effective rate is 50.4%, according to researchers in Brazil. Two mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna had efficacy rates of about 95% in late-stage clinical trials.

In the Far East, Indonesia has the most deaths, 42,530 in 17th place with 87 reported Sunday.

Japan is 40th with 9,222 deaths, including 17 on Sunday with the record 120. Cases are 2,777 with the record 7,882.

On Saturday, Osaka Prefecture reported a daily record of 918 infections Saturday, before the Tokyo Summer Olympics start July 23. Tokyo reported 570 cases, which is the highest since a state of emergency was lifted last month in the nation.

But a quasi-state of emergency will come into effect in several cities, including Tokyo, with shorter operating hours at eateries. They last until May with different dates for the cities.


Japan has vaccinated only 0.9% of the population without at least one dose.

South Korea, which administered its first vaccines on Feb. 26, is at 2.2%. South Korea announced Sunday it will resume administering AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine to all eligible people between the ages of 30 and 60 after suspending it for people under 60 while awaiting the outcome of the European Medicine Agency's review.

South Korea's record is 40 deaths on Dec. 29 with three announced Sunday for a total of 1,768, as well as 614 cases, behind the mark of 1,241 on Dec. 25.

Israel, which is considered part of Asia, has fully vaccinated 58.7% of its population, fourth in the world with Gibraltar No. 1 at 93.6%. Its death toll is 6,294.

Iran reported 258 deaths, the highest this year with the record 486 in November. And cases were 21,063, closed to the record 22,586 Thursday. On Saturday, Iran imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country.

In Europe, six nations are in the top 10 for most deaths: Britain fifth with 127,087, Italy sixth with 114,254, Russia seventh with 102,986, France eighth with 98,750, Germany ninth with 78,964 and Spain 10th with 76,329. Poland is 13th, rising one spot in the past week with 548,421, including a record 954 on Thursday. Sunday's increase was 245.


Europe leads the continents with 951,208 deaths and 41,652,262 cases.

In Europe, vaccinations rates for the first dose are 4.79% in Britain, 16.6% in France, 15.4% in Spain, 15.2% in Germany, 14.7% in Italy, 14.2% in Poland, 4.7% in Russia.

Coronavirus has been subsiding in Britain after a wave from a variant, B.1.1.7, that emerged in the kingdom.

Britain reported only seven deaths Sunday from a peak of 1,823 on Jan. 20.

Cases were 1,730 from a high of 68,053 on Jan. 8.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is "hopeful" international travel could resume as early as May 17.

"But I do not wish to give hostages to fortune, or to underestimate the difficulties we are seeing in some of the destination countries that people might want to go to," he said. "We don't want to see the virus reimported to this country."

England's lockdown has been easing. Shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality venues, including pubs, can reopen Monday.

Johnson will not be conducting any coronavirus press conferences during mourning for Prince Philip.

The prime minister won't attend Prince Philip's funeral Saturday due to coronavirus regulations that allowed only 30 people.


France remains under a lockdown through the end of April, including schools closed, among a surge in cases and deaths.

In France, cases surged by 60,922 last Sunday, the most since a record 88,790 on Nov. 7. Sunday's increase was 34,895.

Deaths reached more than 400 twice last week with 176 Sunday and are down from a fall peak of 932 and a record 1,437 on April 15.

On Monday, Italy will ease restrictions. Six regions were classified as high-risk "red" areas, including shifted to medium-risk "orange" status. Reduced are Lombardy, which surrounds the country's financial capital Milan; Piedmont, around the northern city of Turin; and the central region of Tuscany.

But bars and restaurants will remain open only for takeout orders and travel to other regions will still be mostly banned.

Deaths hit 718 Friday, the highest since mid-December, with 344 reported Saturday. The record was 993 on Dec. 3.

Cases stayed under 20,000 daily after passing that figure four times the previous week. It dropped to 17,558 Saturday. The record was 40,896 on Nov. 13.

Germany's lockdown is set to expire next Sunday, though states have different versions.

On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the federal government might act to amend the Infection Protection Act, which governs the pandemic, if some states don't come in line "in the foreseeable future."


Deaths were 106 Sunday, way down from a record 1,244. Cases were 16,738 with the record 31,553.

Russia's new deaths and cases also have been trending down. Cases were last above 10,000 on March 14 with Sunday's rise 8,702.

And deaths were last more than 500 on Feb. 13 with Sunday's increase at 337, down from a peak of 635.

Russia is inoculating residents with Sputnik V vaccines and selling it to other countries.

In Spain, Catalan, which includes Barcelona, went under a lockdown through April 19 that bans anyone to enter or leave without a justified reason, including work or doctor visits. The measure was put into place after a rise in hospital admission, including intensive care.

All regions in Spain, except the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, are still subject to a perimeter lockdown. This includes Madrid.

Spain didn't report data on the weekend after 149 deaths Friday compared with a winter peak of 766 on Feb. 6 and a record 996 on April 2. Cases increased by 10,875, behind the mark of 35,118 in January.

North America is second behind Europe for deaths the second-most deaths of the continents, 837,603 and cases with 36,805,191.

The nonessential travel ban among Mexico, Canada and the United States has been extended to April 21. It began one year ago in March.


All but around 30,000 of the total deaths in North America are in those countries.

Mexico reported an increase of 2,192 Saturday, with two-thirds a data review in 2020 for a total of 209,212, fourth in the world. The single-day record is 1,803. Cases were 6,356 for a total of 2,278,420, which ranks 14th.

Last week, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he will be getting the COVID-19 vaccine in a few weeks "to set an example."

"I asked the doctors again, and also to dispel doubts, especially so that those who have had COVID like me, that they not wait so long and set an example for people to protect themselves," Lopez Obrador said.

Mexico was the first Latin American nation to begin administering vaccinations, but the rate is low at 7.2% for at least one dose.

Canada has administered 7.8 million doses with 17.1% of its population getting at least one shot.

Canada reported only 237 deaths in the past week through Saturday and 28 Sunday for a total of 23,315. Its deaths have been under triple digits since 142 on Feb. 3. Cases were 7,619, behind the record 11,383.


But Canada's daily cases per million is 180, compared with the United States, which is at 196, down from 700 in January.

"We've been somewhat blind to our overall performance internationally because we're sitting right next door to the United States and the disaster that clearly was their experience during this pandemic," Ontario Hospital Association president Anthony Dale told the National Post.

"They have clearly experienced much worse outcomes overall than Canada, make no mistake. However, it's the future I'm worried about, and we're trending in a worrisome direction in comparison to them when it comes to community spread."

Quebec Premier François Legault announced an extension of emergency measures in several cities, including Montreal. Restrictions are non-essential businesses and schools closed, as well as a curfew.

Oceania, with only 42.3 million people, has 1,151 deaths and 59,721 cases.

New Zealand's deaths remain at 26 with the last one reported on Feb. 16 and Australia's toll stands at 909 with the last two deaths occurring on Nov. 30 and Dec. 29.

New Zealand reported three cases Sunday, tallying 67 in one week, for a total of 2,574, and Australia was up six Sunday for 29,402.

Australia's vaccinations are at 2% of the population getting at least one shot.


Prime Minister Scott Morrison has abandoned a goal to have all residents vaccinated by the end of the year. Pfizer has become the preferred vaccine after medical experts recommended against AstraZeneca jab for people under the age of 50.

"While we would like to see these doses completed before the end of the year, it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties involved," Morrison said in a statement.

Africa has reported 116,001 deaths and 4,385,637 cases.

South Africa has 53,322 deaths, including 66 on Sunday and 931 cases. Infections reached a high of 21,980 on Jan. 8 and deaths at 839 on Jan. 19. Egypt is second with 12,445 and Tunisia third with 9,293.

South Africa, which is dealing with a variant, has vaccinated 0.5% of its population with its first dose, or more than 288,368.

Among continents, Africa has the slowest rate of vaccinations with 0.9%, according to tracking by The New York Times. North America leads with 34%, followed by Europe at 20%, South America at 11%, Asia at 7.3% and Oceania at 1%.

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