World passes three billion vaccine mark in race to contain COVID-19

World passes three billion vaccine mark in race to contain COVID-19

Paris: More than three billion COVID-19 vaccines have been administered around the world, an AFP tally found Tuesday, as countries race to contain the virulent Delta variant that is fuelling outbreaks all over the globe.

The highly infectious strain of Coronavirus has caught many nations off guard, with Russia reporting its highest daily death toll yet, Australia shutting down city after city and fears growing over major sporting events like Euro 2020 and the Olympic Games.

At least 3.9 million people have died from COVID-19, and while some wealthy countries are succeeding in bringing infections down thanks to strong vaccination drives, others where shots are not as readily available are struggling.

According to the tally, high-income countries as defined by the World Bank have administered an average of 79 doses per 100 inhabitants, with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrein and Israel taking the lead.

In low-income nations, the figure is just one shot per 100 people.

On Tuesday, foreign ministers from the Group of 20 major economies stressed the need for greater global cooperation in the face of the pandemic.

"Multilateral cooperation will be key to our collective ability to stop this global health crisis," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the ministers in the ancient Italian city of Matera.

Western leaders have pledged to donate one billion doses to poorer countries, but have been widely criticised for being too slow to help.

Vaccine hesitancy has also played a part in slow uptake.

In Russia, which recorded its highest daily death toll on Tuesday since the outbreak of the pandemic, officials have introduced mandatory shots for some groups of citizens to counter scepticism. The country reported 652 Coronavirus fatalities over the past 24 hours, with a record-high number of daily deaths -- 119 -- in Saint Petersburg, which is due to host a Euro 2020 quarter final

on Friday.

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