COVID-19 infections hit highest daily record with 1 billion vaccine doses administered globally so far

Paris, April 25 2021:  A ray of hope has emerged from the devastation of the pandemic as the number of Covid-19 jabs administered globally surpassed the one billion mark on Saturday, even as the number of virus cases worldwide hit a new daily record mainly due to an explosion of infections in India.

At least 1,002,938,540 vaccine doses have been administered in 207 countries and territories. Nevertheless, the number of new infections topped 893,000 worldwide on Friday, a new daily record. Indian authorities announced 346,786 new cases on Saturday, a record for a single country since the start of the pandemic.

Thailand, which had long avoided the worst of the virus, was also grappling with a spiralling caseload with more than 1,400 Covid-19 patients waiting to be admitted to hospital.

The pandemic has now killed more than three million people worldwide since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019. Hard-hit Brazil has seen its deadliest month yet of the virus with nearly 68,000 reported fatalities in April.

The Indian government has organised special trains to get oxygen supplies to worst-hit cities. One “oxygen express” carrying 30,000 litres of oxygen arrived in northern Lucknow at dawn on Saturday, where armed guards were waiting to escort trucks to hospitals. The Indian air force is also being used to transport oxygen tankers and other supplies around the country and to bring oxygen equipment from Singapore.

Tragically, oxygen cylinders were implicated in a fire that tore through a virus intensive care unit in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, leaving at least 23 people dead. With the pandemic still showing no sign of slowing, governments around the world are placing their hopes in vaccines. And worldwide, the number of vaccine doses administered has doubled in less than a month.

Nevertheless, while the majority of poor countries have also started to vaccinate thanks to the covax program, inoculation is still largely a privilege of high-income countries, home to 16 percent of the world’s population, administering 47 percent of vaccine doses.

By contrast, low-income countries account for just 0.2 percent of shots so far. In the US, regulators have approved the re-start of a rollout of Johnson & Johnson vaccines halted over blood clotting concerns. In Europe, Belgium said it would authorise the J&J shot for all adults, having already received 36,000 doses.

The EU as a whole said it would have enough vaccines to immunise 70 percent of its adult population by the end of July. But despite the optimism, the threat of the virus remains ever-present, with Germany implementing tougher new lockdown rules, including night curfews and school closures, after the government passed a disputed new law designed to slow infections. And in Britain people continue to rail against restrictions still in force.

Police in London said they arrested five people, and eight officers were injured, after disorder at large-scale protests against England’s remaining coronavirus restrictions, the mandatory use of masks and possible introduction of so-called vaccine passports. The demonstrators marched along several major arteries, including the main shopping district Oxford Street, with videos and photos showing thousands in attendance. Hundreds then rallied in Hyde Park late afternoon.

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