Coronavirus News Update – May 21: Death Toll from Covid-19 Could Be 2 to 3 Times Higher Than Reported, Says WHO

Maryland to Offer $2 Million in Prize Money to Those Who Get Vaccinated

By Jesse Sokolow on 21 May 2021
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A sunset in the Bay Area, viewed from the Top of the Mark at the Mark Hopkins

The World Health Organization said Friday that the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is most certainly two to three times higher than what has been officially recorded. Some six to eight million people may have died from Covid-19 or its effects since the start of the pandemic 15 months ago, compared with the 3.4 million deaths that have been officially recorded, Dr. Samira Asma, assistant director of the WHO’s data division, told reporters.

As of Friday morning, the world has recorded over 165.9 million Covid-19 cases and has seen more than 3.44 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, over 146.6 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus.

Since the start of vaccinations at the end of last year, the world has administered more than 1.59 billion doses as of Friday morning, the equivalent of approximately 20.1 doses for every 100 people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that as of Friday, 160.1 million people in the United States have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Around 60.5% of the population over the age of 18 –some 156 million people –has received at least a first inoculation, including 124.8 million people, or 48.4% of the same population, who have received both doses. Meanwhile, 57.1% of the population over the age of 12, or 160.1 million people, have received at least one shot, including 126.5 million, or 45.2% of the same population, who have received both doses. Overall, 38.1% of the population, or 126.6 million people, has been fully vaccinated against the virus.

California workplace safety officials postponed a decision on relaxing face mask and social-distancing guidance for workers returning to their jobs. For the time being, they must continue to don face masks and practice social distancing, both indoors and out.

A major milestone took place at one of the Bay Area’s largest hospitals. For the first time since March 2020, the hospital reported zero Covid-19 patients.  Officials at the hospital credited the extensive number of people who have been vaccinated.

Using the slogan “Get your shot for a shot to win,” Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland announced a program under which a different and randomly selected vaccinated Marylander would receive $40,000 each day through July 4, at which time a drawing would be held for a grand prize of $400,000.

Meanwhile, health officials in Japan approved both the Moderna and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines on Friday. The move comes as the country is trying to speed up its vaccination campaign. The only authorized vaccine in the Land of the Rising Sun has been the one offered by Pfizer, and only 4.1% of the population has received at least one shot.

Finally, amidst rising case numbers, officials in Argentina ordered a nine-day lockdown in the parts of the country worst impacted by the pandemic.  “We are living the worst moment since the start of the pandemic,” said President Alberto Fernández, in a radio and television broadcast.  “If we follow the guidelines, we will reduce the impact of this second wave. It is imperative that every local jurisdiction strictly apply these guidelines. There is no space for speculation and there is no time for delay.“

Jonathan Spira contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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