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More people worldwide have died of COVID-19 so far this year than during all of last year, according to data tallied by Johns Hopkins University. So far, 3.77 million deaths have been reported since the pandemic began — with 1.89 million reported in 2021 exceeding the 1.88 million deaths counted as of December 31, 2020.

 

While the true toll of the pandemic last year may have been far higher — in part the result of data lags, missed cases, and incomplete reporting — the figure serves as a stark reminder of the raging pandemic that continues to claim millions of lives around the world, even as vaccinations have arrested the worst of the disease's spread in the U.S. To date, a total of nearly 600,000 deaths have been reported in the U.S. 

Worldwide, an average of more than 9 million deaths from COVID-19 are still being confirmed daily. That rate of newly reported deaths has steadily declined from its last peak in April, but remains higher than record daily tolls from November of last year.

Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are also climbing inside many countries. The World Health Organization warned this week that the Western Pacific region, which encompasses Asia, had again recorded its highest incidence of deaths to date.

"Increasingly, we see a two-track pandemic. Many countries still face an extremely dangerous situation, while some of those with the highest vaccination rates are starting to talk about ending restrictions," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Monday.

Public health officials have repeatedly warned world leaders against prematurely easing COVID-19 restrictions over the past weeks, citing concerns over a surge in new fast-spreading strains of the virus. The White House also raised concerns Tuesday over recent data suggesting vaccines were significantly less effective after one dose against the B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India. President Biden's chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, urged Americans to "make sure you get that second dose."

Coronavirus Crisis More CDC to meet on rare heart inflammation following COVID vaccines Goldman Sachs wants to know if returning workers are vaccinated Hospitals across U.S. tell workers they must get COVID-19 shots As U.S. vaccinates kids, Africa faces "unconscionable" shortages Biden announces donation of 500 million COVID vaccine doses abroad More

Dubbed the "Delta" variant by the World Health Organization, that mutation now appears to be driving outbreaks of cases in several countries around the world, even in the United Kingdom where 6 in 10 residents have at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Health officials say there's evidence that being fully vaccinated still offers protection against all known variants.

In the U.S., B.1.617.2 has already been spotted by labs in 49 states. "Nowcast" projections published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate it could make up 6.1% of circulating virus in the country.

 The somber milestone also comes as President Biden is touting a "historic" purchase of 500 million doses in Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to donate to low- and middle-income countries and the African Union through 2022, beyond the 80 million doses he had pledged to share by June.

"It's also in America's self-interest. As long as the virus rages elsewhere, there is a risk of new mutations that could threaten our people," Mr. Biden said Thursday in announcing the purchase.

Global health officials praised President Biden's announcement as "an important step forward" to help address "urgent" shortfalls in vaccine doses. The U.S. and other wealthy nations had faced growing criticism for months for choosing to vaccinate their own children and other low-risk residents "at the expense of health workers and high-risk groups in other countries."

The Biden administration also recently announced it would unwind its use of the Defense Production Act for doses it had ordered from Novavax, Sanofi, and AstraZeneca, potentially freeing up unused vaccine supply that had been hoarded under the wartime powers for Americans.

However, doses from the president's Pfizer purchase are not expected until August. The first delivery will number only "in the range of 50 million," Gayle Smith, the State Department's COVID-19 coordinator, said Thursday. 

World leaders have also urged the Food and Drug Administration to speed its review of the vaccine components manufactured by Emergent BioSolutions for Johnson & Johnson, which remain stalled around the world as the FDA probes potential cross-contamination of their batches.

And the U.S. has faced opposition over other moves that could help scale up COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing in other countries, like its support of a patent waiver that remains in talks at the World Trade Organization.

"Six months since the first vaccines were administered, high-income countries have administered almost 44% of the world's doses. Low-income countries have administered just 0.4%," Tedros told the WHO's member states on Thursday.

"The most frustrating thing about this statistic is that it hasn't changed in months," he added.

News Source: CBS News

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The daily coronavirus update: 5 more deaths in Minnesota, bringing the total to 7,555

Sign up here to get our daily updates on coronavirus in Minnesota delivered straight to your inbox each afternoon. And go here to see all of MinnPost’s COVID-19 coverage.

MinnPost provides updates on coronavirus in Minnesota Sunday through Friday. The information is published following a press phone call with members of the Walz administration or after the release of daily COVID-19 figures by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Here are the latest updates from June 23, 2021:

604,758 cases; 7,555 deaths

Five more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday, for a total of 7,555.

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Of the people whose deaths were announced Wednesday, two were in their 90s, one was in their 70s, one was in their 60s and one was in their 50s. Two of the five people whose deaths were announced Wednesday were residents of long-term care facilities.

The state has reported 129 deaths so far in June. The state is on pace to report its second-fewest deaths in any month of the pandemic, not counting March when COVID-19 was just emerging. 

MDH also said Wednesday there have been 604,758 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. That number is up 71 from the total announced on Tuesday and is based on 9,162 new tests. The seven-day case positivity rate, which lags by a week, is 1.3 percent. That’s far below a 5-percent threshold state officials consider a concerning sign of disease spread.

As of Monday, the most recent data available, 3,032,262 Minnesotans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s up 2,923 from the day prior and roughly 54.5 percent of the state population. About 66.4 percent of Minnesotans age 16 and older have at least one dose.

MDH says 2,835,126 Minnesotans, about 51 percent of the population, have completed a vaccine series. That’s up 4,269 from the day prior. About 62.6 percent of the population age 16 and older are fully vaccinated.

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The most recent data available show 31 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 82 are in the hospital with COVID-19 not in intensive care. That’s down from 56 people in the ICU the week prior and 95 hospitalized outside of intensive care. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

More information on cases can be found here.

Today on MinnPost
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  • As always, a look at the numbers on the MinnPost COVID-19 dashboard.
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  • As the U.S. emerges from the COVID-19 crisis, Missouri is becoming a cautionary tale for the rest of the country, reports the Associated Press.

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MDH’s coronavirus website: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html

MDH’s phone line for COVID-19 questions, Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m: 651-297-1304

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