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International Medical Corps COVID-19 Situation Report #39, September 15, 2021

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Situation Report
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FAST FACTS

  • According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, which consolidates data from a range of sources, as of September 15, there have been 225,934,549 confirmed cases of COVID- 19 reported worldwide.
  • In the US, we are supporting 43 hospitals across the country— including in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Puerto Rico and Texas— with a range of services and equipment, including emergency medical field units, supplies and volunteer staff.
  • We have screened more than 7.2 million people for COVID-19 at our global missions and have distributed more than 28.7 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection prevention and control (IPC) items to supported health facilities.
  • We have trained more than 28,400 frontline healthcare professionals on COVID-19 prevention and control measures.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the world has confirmed about 226 million cases of COVID-19, along with more than 4.6 million documented deaths. Across the globe, more than 5.7 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, with more than 29% of the world fully vaccinated and another 12% partially vaccinated. More than 30 million doses are being administered daily on average, and 41% of the world population has some level of vaccine-derived immunity, signifying a great success. Still, as many have predicted, vaccine equity is proving to be a massive challenge. Many countries and regions are being left behind in vaccine distribution. For example, in Africa, many countries have vaccinated well below 5% of their citizens.

This vaccine inequity comes in the context of the Delta variant, which is far more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19 and is one of the most infectious respiratory diseases ever seen by scientists, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1 There also is evidence that the Delta variant may cause more severe illness than the original strain of the virus, with two studies showing a higher hospitalization rate in those infected with the variant. Still, vaccines have proven to be highly effective at preventing severe disease from the variant. New studies show that unvaccinated individuals are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die from the virus. In light of the more-transmissible Delta variant, there has been much discussion about booster doses of vaccines for immunocompromised individuals and even for the general public. The case for booster doses for immunocompromised is settled, with the FDA authorizing boosters for those with weakened immune systems, such as HIV and cancer patients Boosters for the general public, on the other hand, are more controversial. This week, an expert review was published in The Lancet stating that that boosters are not yet appropriate for the general public. The study, which included input from high-level FDA and WHO officials, noted that though there is waning protection from mild disease, the vaccines are still providing protection from severe illness Nonetheless, the United States appears poised to begin offering boosters to qualifying individuals on September 20. The prospect of even more vaccine supply going to high-income countries—especially doses that may not be necessary—will have a dire impact on the availability of vaccines in vulnerable, lower-income countries.