GP Insights

GP Insights # 378, 4 July 2020

Six months on, deaths from COVID-19 pandemic cross half a million globally
Harini Madhusudan

What happened?
On 29 June, marking six months since the first reports of the pandemic, the Director-General of WHO in a media brief announced that the global deaths due to the pandemic have crossed half a million (500,000). With the total number of cases at 11,191,810, the current casualty across the world stands at 5,29,127, which is eight per cent of the total number of cases. Approximately 6,330,816 are reported to have been discharged or recovered. 

Across the different regions, North America has the highest number of cases, followed by Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and Oceania. Europe leads the statistics on casualties along with North America, and South America. These countries have collectively reported over 1,00,000 deaths. 

What is the background?
In six months, the impact of the coronavirus as a pandemic was felt in almost all parts of the world and is continuing to unfold against the following background:

First, the economies begin to open despite an increase in cases. The USA, Russia, Brazil, and India are the top four countries with the maximum number of cases, and yet these countries have also begun to ease the lockdown measures or never really followed a lockdown. Setting a dangerous trend in opening up their economic hubs without flattening the curve, these countries have contributed to the rising global number of cases.   

Second, the multiple waves and the late waves. The impact of the pandemic has varied in different parts of the globe owing to the different intensity of the virus. To a large extent, the region of Asia and Africa, with a higher population and low medical expertise, have consistently reported lesser cases of virus compared to Europe or America. Some regions are still struggling to contain the spread from the first wave. While countries like China and South Korea have reported signs of a second wave. And then, after an initial lull, there is a late wave in Latin America during the recent weeks.  

Last, the failure to generate a global/regional cooperation regime. Though the 'globalized world' led to the spread of the pandemic, the systems that are representative of globalization have not managed to bring collective mechanisms to fight the virus. Countries responded to the COVID-19 at individual capacities. Apart from the global call for the search for the vaccine, the large gap in the success and failures of pandemic management has also impacted the global increase in the cases. 

What does it mean?
First, through the first half of 2020, the pandemic has brought to light the ongoing failures of the existing systems and the inconsistencies that have been leading the spread of the virus at an unpredictable rate. On 3 July alone, the world reported 2,09,028 cases. This indicates until a global strategy to combat the pandemic collectively or the existing systemic fault lines are revisited, the rising numbers will be difficult to arrest. 

Second, multiple labs across the globe have announced to be working on the development of a vaccine, many in the third stage of testing. These show that the following weeks will be crucial for the spread, the resurgence of cases, and the vaccine development.  

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