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COVID-19: A Year Showing Mankind's True Colors

  • Turkish doctor, Hanifi Keskec in the ICU at a Training and Research Hospital, in Istanbul, Turkey. The WHO (World Health Organization) announced for the first time on 11 March 2020 COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic.

    Turkish doctor, Hanifi Keskec in the ICU at a Training and Research Hospital, in Istanbul, Turkey. The WHO (World Health Organization) announced for the first time on 11 March 2020 COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic. | Photo: EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU

Published 11 March 2021

The pandemic has more than evidenced the disregard from rich countries for the needs of the poor.

This Thursday marks one year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic, after expressing its concern due to the "alarming levels of spread."


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Despite months of efforts to contain the disease, the response is uneven worldwide. According to global records, at least 2,613,983 people have died since the start of the health situation, and more than 117,688,732 cases have been diagnosed.

The United States, negative leadership in death and cases.

With more than half a million deaths, the United States is the most affected country. In addition to increasing the pace of vaccinations, it approved the delivery on Wednesday of an economic stimulus amounting to 1.9 trillion dollars. Its President, Joe Biden, describes it as a "historic victory."

Lack of medical supplies, collapsed hospitals, plus the absence of strict prevention policies ensured that continuous waves of spread affected the country. In this case, the governmental management carried out by former President Donald Trump had a great influence.

So far, 93 million doses of vaccination have been administered in the country, whose orders for the drug are sufficient to receive enough by the end of May to vaccinate all of its adult citizens.

However, Biden asked to renegotiate the contract for an additional 100 million doses with Johnson & Johnson. Vaccination, reduced travel, increased natural immunity due to mass infections, and the use of masks are some of the factors that, according to experts, may have reduced the rise in cases in February.

Despite the decrease in that short time, according to last week's data, an average of 1,600 people is dying every day.

Serious situation in Latin America

Brazil is another country with a totally unfavorable situation. This Wednesday, the nation surpassed its maximum number of deaths in one day, reaching 2,268 people.

"We are in the worst moment of the pandemic in Brazil; the rate of contagion with variants makes the epidemic even more serious. The year 2021 will continue to be very hard," said Margareth Dalcolmo, a pulmonologist, and researcher at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), to international media.

The South American giant was late in starting its immunization campaign against the virus, whose death toll stands at 270,656 people. Also, the ultra-right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, has denied the effects of the pandemic and opposes the implementation of restrictive policies and business closures which, according to him, is to preserve jobs.

According to international records, another of the most affected countries in Latin America is Mexico, whose death toll, together with Brazil, totals 703,922 and 22,260,740 reported cases.

This week, the WHO declared a health emergency in the region due to the Brazilian variant's incidence in the south of the country. Some countries, including Chile, added restrictions to travelers arriving from Brazil.

Covid-19 and children

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), the worst off are children and adolescents, who have seen all their development indicators decline.

"The number of children who are hungry, isolated, mistreated, anxious, living in poverty, and forced to marry has increased," said Henrietta Fore, executive director of the organization.

In 2020, the percentage of children who could suffer from malnutrition increased by 14 points, which means there would be between 6 and 7 million children in this situation, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

On the other hand, it is also a threat to children that vaccination campaigns against other diseases, such as measles, have been suspended in 26 countries due to the new health situation, causing new threats to the health of those who have not been immunized.

Europe and the UK variant

Meanwhile, Europe also has worrying waves of contagions in regions such as Tyrol in Austria, Nice and Moselle in France, Bolzano in Italy, and Bavaria and Saxony areas in Germany.

In France, hospitals are overcrowded, and arrangements are being made to evacuate patients from certain regions, especially in Paris. According to the authorities, Poland has another new record number of contagions caused by the "growing relaxation" of the population.

Italy's life expectancy dropped to 82.3 years because of the pandemic, according to official statistics.

Added to all this is the incidence of the most easily spread variants of the virus known as B.1.1.7 from the United Kingdom, the South African B.1.351, and the Brazilian B.1.351, known as B1.

According to a study published Wednesday in the medical journal BMJ, the British variant is 64 percent more deadly, with 4.1 deaths per 1,000 cases detected than 2.5 for the classic coronavirus variant.

If we finally add the lack of multilateral collaboration to face the pandemic, the hoarding of vaccines by the most developed nations, the economic and political pressures of pharmaceutical companies on some countries, one year after the pandemic, the improvement is discreet, and there is still a lot of work to be done by humanity, still far from overcoming the health crisis.

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