The world marked five million deaths from the coronavirus on Monday (November 1), less than two years into the pandemic that changed everything.
The deaths in the US, European Union, Britain and Brazil –– whose combined populations make up only one-eight of the world’s population –– account for nearly half of all reported deaths. In the US alone, 740,000 people have died from the virus –– the highest of any other country.
News of the grim milestone comes as Covid-19 infections becomes the third leading cause of death around the world. Behind heart disease and stroke, the coronavirus, officials say, is next in causing death in the global population.
“This is a defining moment in our lifetime,” Dr. Albert Ko, a Yale infectious disease specialist, told the Associated Press. “What do we have to do to protect ourselves so we don’t get to another 5 million?”
For perspective, five million people is nearly the populations of Los Angeles and San Francisco combined. The data we have is probably an undercount, too, given limited testing availability in parts of the world.
Though wealthier nations have access to top healthcare options, this also means they typically have more elderly people, cancer survivors, and nursing home residents, all of whom are vulnerable to the virus.
In the US, race and income level has also unduly burdened Black people and people of color overall and experts are acknowledging this uneven burden now.
“When we get out our microscopes, we see that within countries, the most vulnerable have suffered most,” Ko said.
Generations of systemic racism put Black people in vulnerable positions to the virus. Considering lack of access to healthcare and wealth gap, Black people have been disproportionately killed by the virus and impacted by the economic fallout.
People of color are also overrepresented in the “essential” workforce, who for nearly two years, have showed up to work even when putting themselves at risk of contracting the virus.
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