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COVID-19 deaths decrease globally while cases surge in Southeast Asia

The global number of new COVID-19 cases over the past week (last week of June 2021) was over 2.6 million, a similar number compared to the previous week. 

However, the number of weekly deaths continued to decrease, with more than 57,000 deaths reported in the past week, a 10% decrease as compared to the previous week. This is the lowest weekly mortality figure since those recorded in early November 2020.

Health officials in Indonesia and Thailand reported record daily highs for new COVID-19 infections, much of it driven by the Delta (B1617.2) variant, as the leader of the World Health Organization (WHO) said countries should continue the fight against the coronavirus through public health measures that have been proven to work and by sharing medical supplies, oxygen, and vaccine (this applies to rich countries who have lots of extra vaccine doses).

At a recent briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said no country is out of the woods yet with COVID-19 and the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant is dangerous and continues to evolve. 

He called on world leaders to vaccinate at least 10% of their populations by the end of September 2021, which would adequately protect healthcare workers, frontliners, and those most at risk, thereby ending the acute phase of the pandemic. 

“There is now some sharing of vaccines happening but it’s still only a trickle, which is being outpaced by variants,” Dr. Tedros said. “In those countries whose hospitals are filling up, they need vaccines and other health tools right now.”

Global health officials have feared an explosive outbreak in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country. And today the country’s cases yesterday soared to new record levels, with nearly 25,000 reported. 

Health ministry officials told the Guardian that the Delta variant is now responsible for 60% of cases, and plans are in the works to triple the country’s oxygen supplies by reallocating supplies from the commercial sector. 

In Thailand, a record 6,087 cases have been reported along with a record 61 deaths, according to the Pattaya Mail. These numbers have not been seen in the country which has effectively controlled COVID locally since the pandemic started. 

Indonesia or Thailand or The Philippines – we need to vaccinate more. Vaccinate faster. To end the acute phase of the pandemic, we need to continue following all public health recommendations and get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

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Dr. Melvin Sanicas (@Vaccinologist) is a physician-scientist specializing in vaccines, infectious diseases, and global health. 

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