The global death toll from Covid-19 surpassed three million on Saturday, a milestone that spotlighted issues of unequal access to inoculation amid calls for waiving patents on vaccines to urgently boost production and distribution worldwide.
“The relentless pace of death” from the coronavirus pandemic “is now being increasingly borne by the poorest places in the world,” Bloomberg reported Saturday, noting that the latest one million deaths documented by Johns Hopkins University came even faster than the first two.
“The grim milestone underscores a widening disparity in combating the pandemic, which parallels the gap in vaccine access,” Bloomberg added. “While mortality rates have largely slowed in the U.S. and parts of Europe thanks to vaccine rollouts that promise a return to some semblance of a normal life, the developing world—Brazil in particular—is shouldering a rising death toll.”
While the United States still led the world in recorded deaths as of Sunday, the pandemic had killed more than 371,600 people in Brazil, 212,200 in Mexico, and 177,100 people in India. Meanwhile, more than 884 million vaccine doses have been administered across 155 countries.
So far, the vast majority of vaccine doses have been hoarded by rich countries, provoking charges of “vaccine apartheid.” Over 100 World Trade Organization (WTO) member nations, led by South Africa and India, have proposed temporarily waiving coronavirus-related patent protections to increase the global supply of doses—but powerful governments including the U.S. and the U.K. have blocked that effort.