As India cases surge, global COVID-19 total tops 27 million

Over the Labor Day weekend, the global COVID-19 total topped 27 million cases, led by a record surge in cases in India that put the country ahead of Brazil as the nation with the second most cases, after the United States.

Cases in European countries continue to rise again, as flare-ups continue in the wake of eased restrictions and the restarting of schools. The pandemic total today climbed to 27,424,421 cases, and 894,163 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

India's cases accelerate

Two days ago, India's daily total topped 90,000 cases for the first time, and yesterday the country's total passed the 4.2 million mark. India is the world's second most populous country behind China.

In New Delhi, cases declined over the summer, but are surging again as India takes more steps to reopen its economy, which includes restarting the city's public transport system, Reuters reported. The city's hospitals are coming under pressure, partly because they are drawing patients seeking care from other parts of India. Medical teams are stretched thin with exhausted staff, and the Indian Medical Association has said that 200 doctors across the countries have died from COVID-19 infections.

Elsewhere, some European countries are reporting sharp case rises. For example, in the United Kingdom, daily cases in August were in the 1,000 range, but have jumped to nearly 3,000 over the last few days. The country's health secretary Matt Hancock said young people are becoming complacent about social distancing warned that they are putting their older relatives at risk.

Spain is also reporting a spike in cases, partly due to mass testing, Reuters reported. So far, the illness pattern—like in several other countries — is trending younger with fewer hospitalizations and deaths. However, some experts warn that numbers of people with intermediate to severe disease could face long-term symptoms. France's cases are also surging, reaching record daily highs over the past few days, and health officials there are bracing for increases in hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions.

WHO calls for bolstered public health, begins review

Meanwhile, in other global developments, at a World Health Organization (WHO) briefing yesterday, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, warned that COVID-19 won't be the last pandemic and that a lesson from the current one is that countries need to be better prepared to handle inevitable future challenges.

Though the medical field has made enormous advances, too many countries have neglected their public health systems, which are the foundation for battling infectious disease outbreaks, he said. Many countries have done well, because they have learned lessons from grappling with threats such as SARS, MERS, polio, measles, and Ebola.

Tedros recognized a recent announcement from German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the government would invest $4 billion Euros by 2026 to strengthen the country's public health system.

In another development, he said a group appointed to review how well the International Health Regulations (IHR) functioned during the pandemic was slated to begin its work today. Tedros added that along with the review, the group will recommend any needed changes. The IHR review is a regular part of WHO emergency responses. Depending on their progress, the group may present an interim report to the World Health Assembly (WHO) when it resumes its meeting in November. A final report is due by the WHA's 2021 meeting next May.

In other global COVID-19 developments:

  • Food safety experts from the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Food reviewed the evidence for SARS-CoV-2 contamination on food and found that it's highly unlikely that food is a source of COVID-19 transmission, CNN So far there is little evidence that food, food packaging, or food handling is an important transmission route for the virus.

  • Two countries reported new COVID-19 vaccine findings, though not from medical journals. Russia reported promising phase 2 findings for a second vaccine, a peptide-based candidate, based in a study of 100 people who received two doses and completed 23-day monitoring. Also, China-based Sinovac yesterday reported that, based on initial phase 1/2 trial results, its vaccine appears to be safe for older people, but the immune response was slightly weaker than in younger people, Reuters

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