Jul 7, 2021 - World

Global COVID death toll tops 4 million amid vaccine disparities

Workers bury the bodies of Covid-19 coronavirus victims at the Pedurenan public cemetery in Bekasi, West Java, on July 7

Workers bury the bodies of COVID-19 victims on Wednesday at the Pedurenan public cemetery in Bekasi, West Java, Indonesia, which is facing a surge in pandemic cases and deaths. Photo: Rezas/AFP via Getty Images

The global toll of confirmed deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 4 million on Wednesday, Johns Hopkins University data shows.

Why it matters: World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted at a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday the "shocking inequity" in vaccine rollouts, with richer countries hoarding does as he warned the world "is at a perilous point" of the pandemic.

"We have just passed the tragic milestone of 4 million recorded COVID-19 deaths, which likely underestimates the overall toll."
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Driving the news: Some countries with high vaccination coverage are "relaxing as though the pandemic is already over" by easing health measures and keeping extra doses for themselves, per Tedros.

  • "This is leading to an acute shortage of oxygen, treatments and driving a wave of death in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America," he said.
  • The highly infectious Delta variant is spreading even in countries with high vaccination rates, including the U.S., Israel and the U.K.

Of note: The British government plans to lift most coronavirus restrictions on July 19, despite the U.K. recording over 30,000 new cases in one day this week "for the first time since January," AP notes.

Yes, but: "With the advent of the vaccine, deaths per day have plummeted to around 7,900, after topping out at over 18,000 a day in January," AP reports.

Go deeper: 2021 already has a higher global coronavirus death toll than 2020

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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