Nearly 3.7 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered globally, but most shots have been given in wealthier countries while poorer nations badly lag in the race to inoculate.
And the highly-transmissible Delta variant is sweeping the globe, driving new outbreaks in Europe and Asia, especially among the unvaccinated, with more than four million dead from the virus since the start of the pandemic.
Indonesia has seen its caseload spin out of control, overtaking India and Brazil as a global coronavirus hotspot.
Much of Southeast Asia is currently reeling under a COVID-19 surge, as the Delta variant wreaks havoc on nations struggling with vaccine rollout capabilities.
The Philippines has warned of a looming case explosion after it detected the Delta variant, while Thailand on Tuesday placed more than 12 million people under a partial, two-week lockdown.
Singapore, which has avoided the worst of the pandemic, said Tuesday it would limit the size of gatherings and ban dining in restaurants after a spike in locally transmitted cases linked to karaoke bars and a fishing port.
About a third of Vietnam’s 100 million people were put under stay-home orders Monday.
Iran, which has suffered the deadliest outbreak in the Middle East, has been gripped by what authorities warned would be a “fifth wave” driven by Delta.
Europe is seeing fresh outbreaks of its own, blamed in part on Delta but also on the easing of measures for the busy summer travel season.
France said Tuesday new COVID-19 infections were increasing at an unprecedented rate, after 18,000 cases were reported for the previous 24 hours.
“We have an increase in the spread of the virus of around 150 percent in the last week: we’ve never seen that,” French Health Minister Olivier Veran said.
The level of infections is the highest since mid-May, when the country was emerging from a third nationwide lockdown.
In a bit of positive news Tuesday, the European Medicines Agency said it had started a “rolling review” of France’s Sanofi coronavirus jab, which could lead to its approval in the EU, joining Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
– INDIA TODAY