Covid-19 death toll tops 5 million

·2-min read
The National Covid-19 Memorial Wall, dedicated to victims, is on the South Bank in front of St Thomas’ Hospital (AP)
The National Covid-19 Memorial Wall, dedicated to victims, is on the South Bank in front of St Thomas’ Hospital (AP)

The global coronavirus death toll has reached 5 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The grim figure comes less than two years since the first reported case of Covid-19.

The UK, US, European Union and Brazil accounted for nearly half of all reported deaths, despite making up one-eighth of the world’s population and being relatively wealthy regions.

The US alone accounted for more than 740,000 lives lost, the highest of any country, and the UK recently surpassed 140,000 deaths.

Globally, coronavirus is now the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and stroke.

The latest figure may also be an underestimate due to limited testing and people dying at home without medical care, especially in poorer countries.

Dr Wafaa El-Sadr, director of Icap - a global health centre at Columbia University - said: "What’s uniquely different about this pandemic is it hit hardest the high-resource countries. That’s the irony of Covid-19."

Although wealthier nations benefit from longer life expectancies, this also means they have larger proportions of older people, cancer survivors and care home residents, all of whom are especially vulnerable to Covid-19, Dr El-Sadr noted.

While poorer countries may suffer from less sufficient healthcare, their populations are much younger meaning they are less likely to fall seriously ill from coronavirus.

For example, India was hit particularly hard by the Delta variant that peaked in early May but the country now has a lower reported daily death toll than wealthier nations such as the UK, US or Russia.

Currently, many nations in eastern Europe such as Russia and Ukraine are being severely impacted by the virus, thought to be worsened by misinformation and distrust in government causing lower vaccination rates.

Inside wealthier nations, poorer areas are thought to be hit the hardest. In the US, Black and Hispanic populations were worst impacted by Covid-19 due to less access to healthcare and higher chances of living in poverty, compared to white people.

"When we get out our microscopes, we see that within countries, the most vulnerable have suffered most," said Dr Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist at the Yale School of Public Health.

Wealthier countries have also benefitted from higher vaccination rates and have been accused of hoarding supplies.

Just 5 per cent of the 1.3 billion people living in Africa have been vaccinated.

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