As Covid Death Toll Passes 3 Million, a Weary World Takes Stock

Apr 17, 2021 · 76 comments
Bill (Terrace, BC)
In the 1918 pandemic, the death toll grew astronomically in poorer nations like India later on. If vaccines aren't made available in poorer nations now & if people in Developed Nations refuse vaccines & safe practices, it may happen again.
joel strayer (bonners ferry,ID)
Interesting article and letters, as well. Here in North Idaho, the abject stupidity and denial of science rages on. It is still a hoax here, Dr. Fauci is a clown and a fool. Almost all of the 566,000 American dead are dead from something else. Ask anyone, they'll be happy to tell you. Contempt for mask-wearers is becoming more and more blatant, comments previously murmured are now a bit more vocal. Please see "Idaho mask-burning events" to grasp the depth of the insanity here. And, my attitude has changed as well. I and the friends I associate with have been vaccinated, the others in this county, virtually all right-wing, are certain vaccinations are dangerous because they live their lives on Facebook, which continues its traditional role as a dis-information clearing house, and because whatever Trump says still goes, if he ever said it was a hoax, then it still is. I no longer care if these people get it. The more the better, it just assures a better outcome for democrats in the next election. 16 months in, any of them will tell you it's like the flu, and that MSM are lying to us. Some will tell you there has NEVER been a vaccine....for anything. It's all a lie. I could tell you in my own words how sick of them I am , but the NYT would not publish it.
Caroline (Los Angeles)
Americans, as usual, are on the path of self destruction. This is the wealthiest country in the world, and now that we have a real vaccine roll-out there should be the possibility of normalcy, yet we are also a country filled with idiots, who refuse to be vaccinated or follow even basic health safety measures. Witness Michigan and a Supreme Court that interprets "rights" as the right to kill other people.
mmcshane (Dallas)
@Caroline Who would have ever expected the United States to be home to so many nihilists. It's especially surprising, because so many are self-identifying. adamantly, as "pro-life". (As if everyone else is binary "Pro-Death.") If the Ex-Pres identified anything accurately (about his audience of acolytes), it was that their self-obsession was on par with HIS, and nothing hampers self-interest like having to make sacrifices for the good of ALL Americans. If you turn the practice of wearing a mask into a debate about 'the infringement of individual freedom', you instantly will be able to make political points...out of a simple act of denying the Coronavirus a host. And if you seize on the emotions of an already fraught populace, and continue stirring this emotional stew of can direct this horsepower in any direction you please. People always want to know "who is the bad guy" in an equation...who is at fault. That way we don't have to entertain any uncomfortable considerations, such as "maybe God is also doing THIS." So, The Donald was MORE than happy to vilify someone who has served our country for decades, namely Dr Fauci. And venal 'toxic avengers' like Jim Jordan continue to make political hay out of portraying Anthony Fauci as "The Bad Guy." Maybe our country has hit its expiration date, after all.
Koret (United Kingdom)
There are places in the world who have been very successful at controlling the spread of COVID19, such as New Zealand, Australia and South Korea. These countries have pursued a vigorous policy of quarantining, test track and trace and closing their borders to stop the spread of the disease in the case of Australia and New Zealand, or imposing restrictive quarantine and test track and trace, in South Korea. International travel is the conduit for spreading this disease from country to country. Surely therefore, to prevent what appears to be a never ending cycle of reinfection and importation of new variants; should it not be the case that all countries should adopt the Australia, New Zealand and South Korea models of controlling this virus? With the implantation of safe vaccination programmes, surely the world could then get ahead of this terrible virus and eliminate the virus throughout the world?
Neil (Oregon)
@Koret most of the world's countries differ from those you name in ways which would prevent those actions from being taken in them
Hellen (NJ)
Globalism, Hedonism and look at Meism don't mix well with a pandemic. At the same time the media is lamenting this milestone there are international flights all over the place filled with people spreading deadlier variants all over the place. It will get worse.
Expat in Japan (Tokyo, Japan)
(Resubmitted with source citation to facilitate approval) These 3 million deaths are going to look pale in comparison to the global catastrophe that awaits us all if the Olympics are allowed to go ahead in just a little over three months. Japan has vaccinated less than 1 percent of its population so far and the glacial pace of the vaccine rollout means that only a very small percentage of the population (probably less 5 percent) will have been vaccinated to get immunity by the time the Olympics start. This is particularly true since two shots are required and it takes another 2-3 weeks after the second shot to develop immunity. Japan plans to receive close to 100,000 overseas athletes, coaches, staff, organizers and media from more than 200 countries for the Olympics. The organizers have not mandated Covid-19 vaccines as a requirement for them to travel to Japan. Many countries including Japan are seeing a spike in more contagious and dangerous variants. Infections are soaring in Japan where the government has imposed new emergency measures in many areas including Tokyo and Osaka. History will judge the IOC, the Tokyo Olympics Committee and the Japanese government very harshly if these games proceed as planned, since the results will certainly be catastrophic. (“This week marked 100 days until Tokyo 2020, which will see 90,000 people fly in from around the world...”. Citius, altius, virus: it seems absurd, but the Olympic Games must go on, The Guardian, Apr16, 2021).
John Smithson (California)
@Expat in Japan. We will indeed see if you are right or wrong. Myself, I'll be glad to see the Olympics go on. And I'm betting that it turns out fine.
manfred marcus (Bolivia)
What a worldwide tragedy, with three million deaths thus far; most of it could have been averted if we had real leaders, instead of demagogues and charlatans, listening to public health experts and follow their recommendations. Witness all the suffering and unnecessary deaths due to the arrogant stance and the spreading of disinformation by the likes of Trump and Bolsonaro, whose indifference combine close to one million deaths under their belts!
Londoner (London)
Most of these deaths were avoidable. As several Asian nations together with Australia and New Zealand have shown, the virus can be kept at bay even when it is active elsewhere if controls are strict enough. What was needed was a blanket ban on non-essential air travel with strictly enforced hotel quarantine, a track and trace phone app which really works in a way that authorities can use to find and isolate those who are at risk, and the preparedness to enforce regulations strongly when necessary. Sadly, most Western democracies let personal travel continue far too long (with the explicit backing of the World Health Organisation) listening to the whinings of the travel industry and globalised corporates who have persuaded themselves travel is essential. Similar whinings from privacy campaigners have left most of the apps available in each country failing to share essential location data with authorities that we have perversely allowed Apple and Google to retain throughout. Governments (and the WHO) also failed to stockpile sufficient PPE in advance, and failed to be honest about the importance of it when they found themselves without stock. We could have avoided most of these deaths, but collectively Western governments failed to act.
vishmael (madison, wi)
Clearly first to informed virologists then to lay public via reports such as this next stages of CV19 or the next pandemia might yet be much worse than experienced so far, this which has harmed and alarmed humanity to date might be just a warm-up to a sooner-or-later greater plague.
Wolf Bein (Yorba Linda)
So many newspaper articles about what will soon happen once the pandemic ends. This virus has not run its course by a long shot; it is not a flu virus but a rather large coronavirus with many tricks up its sleeve. I would not be surprised if we had not seen the half of its destructive power.
Etta Jerome (Ny)
You can pick apart all you want how COVID was managed by governments and private citizens. But you would be ignoring the root cause: Pandemics generally result from high population density and poor habits that riskily approximate humans and animals. As long as there are wet markets, for example, we’ll continue to see worldwide SARS viruses. And wet markets are not the only sources, but a good example. The world is overpopulated and humans have bad practices and habits that they don’t want to change. This isn’t the last virus; almost certainly not the worst or most lethal. It may seem heartless to say in the face of all this tragic loss and suffering, but I do see this pandemic as the price we humans pay for how we live with the earth, and each other. If only we weren’t so myopically, self-destructively stubborn.
John Smithson (California)
@Etta Jerome. There were plenty of pandemics in the days when the earth's population was a fraction of what it is now. Indeed, things are much better than they ever have been in terms of public health. We can and should do better, but we need not flaggelate ourselves for our sins.
fsp (connecticut)
Covid-19 is an indifferent teacher that exposes our social fault lines. Science, leadership, and civic engagement is the fastest way to beat the virus. It really is all of our problem.
Naomi Hossain (Washington DC)
It’s really worrying and it’s not over by any stretch. It will go on for years unless people in the global South get vaccinated. But pharmaceutical companies had to have their intellectual property ‘rights’ respected even while hundreds of thousands of people were dying. So we will continue for a few more years with lockdowns and unnecessary deaths while tech companies and Amazon and big Pharma make out like bandits.
Expat in Japan (Tokyo, Japan)
These 3 million deaths are going to look pale in comparison to the global catastrophe that awaits us all if the Tokyo Olympics are allowed to go ahead in just a little over three months. Japan has vaccinated less than 1 percent of its population so far and the glacial pace of the vaccine rollout in the country means that only a very small percentage of the population (probably less 5 percent) will have been vaccinated to get immunity by the time the Olympics start. This is particularly true since two shots are required and it takes another 2-3 weeks after the second shot to develop immunity. Japan plans to receive close to 100,000 overseas athletes, coaches, staff, organizers and media from more than 200 countries for the Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics organizers have not mandated Covid-19 vaccines as a requirement for them to travel to Japan. Many countries including Japan are seeing a spike in more contagious and dangerous variants. Infections are soaring in Japan where the government has imposed new emergency measures in many areas including Tokyo and Osaka. History will judge the IOC, the Tokyo Olympics Committee and the Japanese government very harshly if these games proceed as planned, since the results will certainly be catastrophic.
Vincent (San Francisco)
The US as a matter of "enlightened self interest," should help Mexico to vaccinate it's citizens. Unvaccinated people crossing the border could introduce variant(s) and undermine current efforts to end the pandemic here. People apprehended trying to cross the border illegally should be vaccinated immediately.
mlb4ever (New York)
"the pandemic claimed a million lives in nine months. It took another four months to kill its second million, and just three months to kill a million more." I'm guessing 5 to 6 million will die from Covid before planet earth reaches herd immunity. Things looked pretty normal around my parts though, yesterday at Costco and today the Southern State was packed heading east at exit 16. We should be thankful that our country seems to have turned the corner, but remember no one is really safe until we all are.
citizen vox (san francisco)
Those who say Coivd 19 deaths are inflated because they include deaths from other diseases should get acquainted with excess mortality. Here's how the Center for Evidence Based Medicine from U Oxford (3/3/21) explains it: "The Coronavirus (SARS-nCOV2) has caused a marked increase in deaths across the world but with significant variation between countries. Some of this variation can be accounted for by differences in the way countries attribute the cause of death. This bias can be overcome by comparing excess all-cause deaths, which is a more objective measure. In addition, estimates of excess deaths can help us understand not only deaths that are directly attributed to COVID-19 but also those that result indirectly (collateral loss)" Here's their data: % increase mortality/age adjusted 100,000 population: Germany 3.3 Canada 6.0 UK, Wales 10.5 USA 12.9 Poland 14.4 Age adjusted means data from every country was projected on an age standardized population. This allows countries with aging populations to be compared to countries with more young people. A prize to anyone who can explain these differences in excess deaths without involving the virus.
JK (Oregon)
Excellent. Thank you for this comment.
winthropo muchacho (durham, nc)
For me a signal experience of living with the Plague (lets describe it correctly) is that I have an experience in common with past generations of humankind over the millennia: living in fear of an unseen airborne pathogen that has killed thousands and that can kill me. I think of the universality of death and the seeming lottery of life. “What universal binomial denominations were his as entity and nonentity? Assumed any or known to none. He was Everyman or No Man.” James Joyce Ulysses
K (UK)
I used to support lockdowns, but after several of them I have grown disinterested in government making my personal decisions on risk for me. I am tired of being filed into essential/nonessential and having my level of risk being determined by what is best for the health care system. I don't know what is best, but I am no longer interested in what any government has to say on this matter. I will wear my mask and take precautions but other than that I want to be left alone. I have reached a point where other people's elderly relatives are not more important than my quality of life. Im not going to go lick your grandma, but I will not tolerate any further restrictions on my movement.
anita smith (new jersey)
If humanity refuses to keep its head down -- via masks, social distancing and, yes, the dreaded lock-downs -- it is the virus that will contine to decide our fate.
Paul E (Colorado Springs)
it's called pandemic. it's happened many times before. it's part of history.
Mark (MA)
The numbers quoted are a fraction of annual death tolls.
Andrew Ton (Planet Earth)
In Singapore, life is pretty much normal except for the usual mandatory masks and contact tracing check-in everywhere you go. But if anyone care to study carefully the details in the daily news reports of the Straits Times in Singapore, you will find that the virus is extremely sneaky. There can be no symptoms at all for their communal or imported cases and then a cluster starts. This is despite extensive controls and stay-at-home quarantine for incoming travelers. And they can be talking about just ONE case causing a cluster. Now look at the 100,000s of cases in many countries. Despite the positive talks about vaccination rates, with such sneaky behavior, combined with anti-vaxers and misinformation, how long do we seriously expect normality to return?
Pete in Downtown (back in town)
To all those who still think this is a hoax and/or who just don't want to get vaccinated, and don't care what that may do to their vulnerable fellow citizens: Please have the decency to carry with you a handwritten, signed and notarized statement that you do not want to receive any and all medical treatment for any COVID-19 related health issue, including measures such as intensive care and cardiopulmonary life support should you get seriously ill with Covid. If you carry such as statement with you in your wallet, I am okay with your otherwise highly egoistic and antisocial position. Let the cards fall where they may. So, as Clint Eastwood asked in Dirty Harry: Do you feel lucky? Or isn't it smarter to just get vaccinated?
Roger C (Portland Oregon)
3,000,000 Covid dead in 1 year, and I'm sure we could have done, and can still manage this pandemic better in the future..I don't want to sound dismissive by changing the subject ...but meanwhile, in case you've forgotten, there are thousands of intercontinental ballistic missiles hidden in silos awaiting the go signal, that would render this and any other major world concern utterly non-newsworthy in the blink of an eye.
Hellen (NJ)
So when will the United Nations have call a special meeting, virtual if necessary, and issue a joint demand that China start answering questions and provide vital data? Or is this just more proof that the UN is useless and biased? I guarantee if this virus had originated in the USA and killed 3 million people the UN would have multiple joint sessions and falling over themselves to condemn this country. Deaths and ruin but thanks to globalism numerous countries are afraid to confront China because they gave away their manufacturing for personal gain. Politicians who went along with this , democrat or republican, also have blood on their hands.
Hamza (Portland, Ore.)
These days, I'm at a loss when I hop on to the internet: I can’t believe that a year later, folks are still spreading disinformation like “plandemic” and “masks are impeding freedoms” and minimizing COVID-19 deaths. I’m well aware that, sadly, there other causes of mortality — cancer, heart disease, hunger, to name a few — but it’s awful to compare deaths. These people were humans leading lives cruelly cut short. My heart goes out to everyone who’s grieving. The sad irony is that we have a remarkable understanding of epidemiology in 2021, and this didn’t have to happen. Perhaps someday public health will get the attention it deserves; in the meantime, mask up and please take the vaccine when you can — for all the people in your life.
Kraig Peck (Seattle)
The public paid billions to the drug companies for their research, and then the US gave them a patent---a monopoly. Why? President Biden needs to exercise his authority to remove the patent, and make these drugs available to the world. Why? Aside from the obvious---that it's the right thing to help the world---as variants develop anywhere in the world, we are vulnerable. Remember, this virus started in Wuhan, China, and arrived here quickly. It'll happen again, unless the entire world is protected.
Bob Huron (Aspen, CO)
I remain skeptical of the covid mortality numbers. Multiple co-morbidities often prevent one clear cause of death, and their appear to be varying degrees of financial and social incentives for the cause of death to be exclusively covid, thereby distorting what would otherwise be reliable statistics. Applying the same logic to widespread unipolar rhetoric on the experimental vaccine, creates reasonable doubt around the vaccine for me. These are the same people who told me that the Vietnam war was a patriotic duty and if I declined to accept that, they would, in accordance with my draft card, incarcerate me for five years or more. So I went. I’m not going this time.
CJ (San Diego, CA)
We cannot pretend that globalization (which makes contagious diseases spread far more easily), population growths (which leads to human encroachments into various habitats), and the free-wheeling use/domestication/consumptions/extinctions of all other species on this Earth would not bring on some consequences. This is indeed the “Anthropocene” epoch due to the lasting impacts human-kind has made on this planet. After extending our reaches so far, it’s inevitable that various pathogens will find us and evolve to adapt to human physiology and spread as well. The relentless growths of our species means it is just a matter of time before new pandemics arise.
KWM (Seattle)
This is the most significant opportunity for the United States to assert global leadership since WW2. First, however, we need to defeat Covid at home. The outbreaks in the Midwest, and the poor vaccination rates in the South, are a sure sign that we are many months away from eliminating the virus here.
anita smith (new jersey)
We are witnessing the ability of the virus to tailor itself to our weaknesses through variants. We will never overcome this virus until we respect its power.
Mirror Image (UK)
A review as events unfold can help us take stock. In examining the effect on different countries, whether in health or economic terms, care must be taken due to the limitations of each country's statistical record collection, statistical standards and political interference or manipulation. For example, the number of cases and related deaths is materially altered by a country's Covid testing policy. Age adjusted excess deaths per 1,000,000 of population give a more accurate comparison. Mexico appears to have been less badly hit than the USA or Brazil as it is doing limited communal or surveillance testing; however on excess deaths basis it becomes clear that Mexico's excess deaths are proportionally double that of Brazil's: Brazil 28% to 13th March 2021, Mexico 57% to 14th February 2021 (source FT).
Neoliberal Shill (NYC)
The true death toll in places like Mexico, Peru, and Ecuador is absolutely staggering.
Who would have predicted that humans would stubbornly resist masks, spacing, and avoiding crowds, three steps that could have reduced the death toll.
Smith (James)
@ARETE’ I did.
Chris (SW PA)
This went about as well as anyone could have realistically hoped. We have several vaccines in record time. Science has triumphed except that we tend to assign all capability to politicians and folks from Hollywood. At least the average person does. 3 million deaths sounds horrific, but if the vaccine had been 3 years in the making the 3 million toll could have been just the US.
Though very horrific global data, the article still underestimates the present status of COVID19 in the United States. There is a vaccination light at the end of the tunnel but the present virus situation in Michigan and the upper mid- wets and northeast are similar to the beginning of previous surges. Global lockdowns are recurring and presently, it is hard to present in United States, but a lockdown may now be required to prevent another surge.
B D Duncan (Boston)
Another lockdown is politically untenable. People are losing their patience in Europe where there’s generally a more community focused perspective. It would be an absolute disaster to implement something similar in the US, even in blue states. Of course, it wouldn’t be necessary if everyone followed precautions, but here we are. At this point our best best is to vaccinate every person possible and starve the fire of oxygen.
James b (Chicago)
Lockdowns are not the answer. Where is the evidence they work? Certainly not in the US or Europe?If you’re vulnerable, stay home. Take a lesson from Florida.
MH (Rhinebeck NY)
"While richer countries have essentially hoarded vaccines, poorer ones are scrambling desperately for doses." While the latter is true, the former claim that rich countries are hoarding is disingenuous jingoism. The implications of hoarding are that the vaccines are sitting on the shelf unused. This is hardly the case to date. What is more true is that the rich(er) countries financed and developed vaccines in record time, driving companies to prioritize materials needed for vaccination. If the fruits of your labor are immediately given away, why work? And if no one works on developing a vaccine because the effort will do no good for the country doing the work, then where do we end up? Yes, no one with a vaccine, flash back to Spanish Flu but with far more people eligible to die. The countries that do the work should benefit first.
Anonymous (Los Angeles)
@MH Why stop there? How about the states that do the work benefit first? You know, the states with the educated populace that tend to vote Democrat, wear a mask and social distance properly?
White Buffalo (SE PA)
@MH In Africa 16 million doses were thrown out because they expired before the country could use them. The problem is not wealthy countries hoarding, the problem is disorganization and vaccine hesitancy in poorer ones is creating huge waste. the world can not afford tossing 16 million doses. They should have gone to a country that would use them.
BayArea101 (Midwest)
The last time I reviewed verified world-wide statistics, the virus has a long way to go in terms of its ultimate effects. Unless I'm mistaken, this was clear a year ago. That being the case, yes, of course there is quite a bit of unwelcome news that will be coming our way here in the richest country on Earth. Let us continue to be thankful that this is where we live.
Jk (Oregon)
The plight of humanity through time involves pain and suffering and eventual death and we have received a vivid reminder in case we wanted to forget it. But it is also full of heroism, perseverance, ingenuity, and industriousness. I hope there will be many stories of the. caregivers, the researchers, the service providers, ingenious problem solvers How did it happen that folks just came up with ways to do school? Imperfect but heroic still. How about those nursing home caregivers who give their all every day, and the physicians and nurses that little by little figures out some treatment protocols for this thing. And the vaccine development. And each parent trying to zoom work and teach. And the public servants who are doing their best to govern for the good of the citizens when it isn’t really always clear what is good. So much goodness in the human experience has been manifested in these times. We need the lights to shine on that.
Martin (Germany)
Meanwhile, over in Germany... I'm really getting fed up with my government. There is no plan, no coordination, no will, no push, nothing. All we get is bickering between the federal government, the state governments and even local and city governments. Everybody has an opinion, end nobody is listening to anybody else. Measures are eased, then strengthened again, then something new is tried, which fails and kills people. It's like a Banana Republic over here in terms of Covid-19. Where and when did we lose our "German-ness"? I was talking to my HMO ("Krankenkasse") the other day and asked them when I could expect to get an invitation from them to get vaccinated. The lady on the phone told me point-blank: "Never. We are not involved in this". But exactly that invitation by your HMO, based on preexisting conditions, was announced just two month ago by the government! Pharmacies and doctors can't give shots until they established "alternative routing" in their buildings. So, they basically want a "Covid-19 door". Madness! Self-tests are hard to come by, and Big Business is fighting tooth and nail against any laws that would force them to offer tests to their employees. Not helpful! The federal federation of hotels, restaurants and bars recently announced that they're going to sue the government for billions of dollars - because of the measures in place that lose them money. They are willing to kill people, as long as they pay their bills first. Dis-gus-ting!
Peter (Germany)
@Martin While I agree with many of the points you make I think the overall picture you paint is too bleak. Yes, we now look enviously at countries like the USA or Britain who are way ahead of us in vaccinations. On the other hand the number of corona-deaths in these countries per capita is nearly twice as high as ours. In my home state of Baden-Württemberg people over 60 will be eligible for vaccination starting tomorrow. It took me 5 minutes yesterday to book a vaccination for next saturday. Self tests are hard to come by? Really? I just checked online: My local "dm"-drugstore has 286 in stock for 4,35 Euros each.
rivvir (punta morales, costa rica)
@Martin "I'm really getting fed up with my government." Your government simply seems to be a reflection of your people, some of whom i have held social media conversation/debate over covid. As well as other contentious issues. Just as our gvt (i am a citizen of the US) is a reflection of our population. So where does the blame really lie?
Julie Tea (vancouver)
@Martin Yes this whole thing has pointed out the strengths of a truly socialized medicine state such as the UK when it comes to inoculations. One system, one supplier equals simple and efficient.
mrfreeze6 (Italy's Green Heart)
On the NPR website they have two articles on the same page: Life In The Roaring 2020s: Young People Prepare To Party, Reclaim Lost Pandemic Year Global COVID-19 Deaths Top 3 Million This pandemic is going to last for a long time.
John Smithson (California)
@mrfreeze6. I don't know about that. Pandemics always end, one way or another. This one will too. Perhaps sooner than you think.
anita smith (new jersey)
We cannot have it both ways. It is the bittersweet lesson of this virus.
John Smithson (California)
@anita smith. Think back to the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. More people died in that epidemic than in any other epidemic in history. Yet it was followed by the Roaring 20s. It's not incongruous that a horrific epidemic is followed by relief and joy. (Though the end of World War I undoubtedly contributed as much or more to the roar as the end of the epidemic.) I expect great relief and joy in coming months or, at worst, years.
American 2021 (Missouri USA)
I was just thinking if the world had responded in concert to Covid 19. What would today look like now? I am ashamed that American politics and our lack of care for each other ruined our response to Covid. And so many families, friends and medical personnel have paid the awful price because we wouldn't mask up and distance. It's a stain upon us as a nation. And history will and should judge us harshly. America, too selfish to work together. Too broken to overcome Trump and his venom. I wish we could try again but all we have is now and we are still failing. That, to me, is the deepest loss in the pandemic. That Americans' basic deep dislike each other was laid bare by a virus.
Hellen (NJ)
@American 2021 I am tired of everyone behaving as if there has only been negative behavior in America. Have you seen Europe, Brazil and India?
White Buffalo (SE PA)
@American 2021 Not America. Deplorables, which unfortunately are at least 74 million strong. Many others have been faithfully masking up, social distancing, avoiding public places where virus can be spread, quarantining when necessary, and staying home as much as humanly possible and getting vaccinated just as soon as they could get an appointment. I know people love to say how connected we are, how alike, but we are divided deeply and most of that division is between deplorables and the rest of America, that did not cheer on a president who tried to storm the Capitol and overthrow our elected government, who believe in science and do not go around claiming the pandemic is a Democratic hoax, or that creationism is the truth and evolution the lie or that climate change does not exist, and if it does, it has nothing to do with fossil fuels. The Times has now published studies showing high Trump support correlates with vaccination refusal. So once again, as with climate change, deplorables are doing their best to kill patriotic Americans.
EyesWideOpen (Albuquerque, NM)
@American 2021 America, Land of the Free. Some of us choose not to wear masks, and others of us die as a result. Some of us choose to protect our right to own lots and lots of weapons, and others of us die as a result. Some of us choose not to get vaccinated, and others of us will die as a result. So, enjoy your freedom - it's costing upwards of 600,000 American lives a year right now. Seems a bit steep to me, but apparently half of us are just fine with that.
Jesse (Amsterdam)
Unfortunately privileged peoples from rich countries continue to show a lack of empathy for the global south, while endlessly complaining about small minded issues like not being able to have a pint in a pub.
Garlic Toast (Kansas)
Some people have worried about something causing a massive wave of deaths for years and one can think about it abstractly, but such an event is so tragic when it actually happens. I'm recalling a news story last year from a Wuhan hospital where the staff was overwhelmed and dead tired and still kept going. The doctors and nurses caring for the sick are Medal-Of-Honor heroic. So many people have families to love and stories to tell that it's just crazy what that virus is doing to us all.
dcl_ (Virginia USA)
"... a Weary World Takes Stock" “It just never crossed your mind that there would be so many dead in so little time" Donald Trump: "People are tired of Covid” A Deathbed Realization: "I thought this was a hoax" Had the world not been swimming in a daily-deepening sea of dis- and mis-information promulgated by politicians and certain "news" outlets that profited - and still do - from it, had Coronavirus been jumped on immediately and everyone followed best medical practice and the science, and had developed nations been more attentive to suffering in the less developed world, there would not be 3 Million dead - so far. You can chatter on all you want about comorbidities and the like but the fact remains many of the 3 million died unnecessarily, as will those that follow them. We got "lucky" with Coronavirus in that it is not especially deadly and there are clear ways to stop its spread. The existential threat is that the mis- and especially the dis- are going to continue to kill us, though not at Black Plague numbers. But that's the We Got Lucky part - this time. One can't be too optimistic about what would happen if, for example, an antibiotic-resistant yersinia pestis (plague) or the like made landfall and Fox & Republicans do what they do best.
sdw (Cleveland)
It is true that poorer nations are having more trouble coping with Covid-19 and with organizing large-scale vaccination programs, but that is only part of the story. In nearly every place where these difficulties exist, there has been a political leader or party who was dismissive about the seriousness of Covid-19, who distrusted science, who was strongly influenced by Donald Trump and who claimed that a mandate to wear masks infringed upon personal liberty. To the extent that the United States can help the suffering citizens of other countries, we should -- out of common decency and for our self-protection. It will not be easy, and we have every right to demand that the incompetent and corrupt foreign leaders stop interfering.
Bubbles (VT)
"Weary" is exactly right. The grief, the fear, the isolation, the anxiety, the disruptions--we are weary. I don't know anyone whose life has not been profoundly affected by this pandemic, whether they suffered from the disease themselves, lost a loved one, watched their children's mental health declining, or simply were lonely. We will endure what we have to, for as long as we can, but we are weary. I hope for better leadership, better environmental stewardship, better preparedness. I don't think we'll have another hundred years before the next one comes again.
Blue Zone (USA)
In the West, the problem is basically the people's innate unwillingness to collaborate in fighting the virus. In America, this is aided by ineffective federal government directives that are undercut at the state and even the local level. People didn't want to wear masks, even though they had been proven effective in Asia for decades, now people find outlandish excuses for not getting vaccinated, and on and on. You get what you deserve. If people had taken the epidemic seriously from the start, we would not be in this mess. It might take another two three years to get rid of it. And once it's gone, 6 months to forget and whitewash how bad it was. Until the next one...
Shane Lynch (New Zealand)
@Blue Zone The people can't be blamed alone - they were taking cues from their POTUS. Most of the deniers and anti-maskers were predominantly Trump supporters. The Rerublican States followed his lead, as did his uneducated and angry base. Trump is responsible for the lack of anything done, and him alone. This was on his watch. All he did was blame Obama for some obscure reason. The current administration now has to clean up the mess left behind.
Smith (James)
@Blue Zone People can blame trump all they want, but I truly blame his minions and followers more. If more of them wore masks and social distanced, our country would definitely have been better off.
professorguy (north country)
@Blue Zone : "It might take another two three years to get rid of it." This statement is based on what exactly? Wishes and fairy dust? Because it also might just be with us forever, killing millions per year for the rest of human history.
Daniel (Atlanta)
Sadly, 3M deaths in a year is ballpark for pandemic level infections. Smallpox in its day killed 2M/year every year before it was finally eradicated with a vaccine in 1982. Tuberculosis, which like COVID is spread by respiratory droplets, kills 2M per year every year, with 10M new infections, and it has been doing so since the dawn of time. Robert Koch, who discovered the TB bacillus, noted TB was responsible for the deaths of one in seven humans over the millennia. Malaria and HIV kill ONLY 600,000 per year, every year. After COVID19 abates, TB and malaria and HIV will still plague humanity, and mostly the poor and infirm amongst us. For TB and malaria and HIV we still don’t have effective vaccines, and existing drugs are continually rendered obsolete by the development of pathogen resistance. So these diseases will continue to plague us. Hopefully, at the end of the day, people and governments will appreciate that supporting science, scientists, and science education year in and year out is the only way to ensure rapid and effective responses to contagions old and new.
Wolf Bein (Yorba Linda)
I disagree with this assessment as it in effect downplays the severity of the situation which is unique and unprecedented. We have here a stealth virus which for many of the infected shows almost no symptoms and then viciously kills others. We live an an age where the world is interconnected and this virus is pure poison to that. These are not the Middle Ages and comparisons to how much more deadly the Black Death was are irrelevant and useless. If we do not get this virus largely under control life as we know will end.
Julie Tea (vancouver)
@Daniel Look up BCG, used in many countries effectively.
Dan (Southwestern, Ut)
Yet many Republican-controlled legislative bodies are in a manner discounting science and issuing a de facto declaration the danger of covid-19 is behind us by passing legislation that prohibits any mandates for face coverings, social distancing and basically stating we no longer need to abide by sound guidance. Then we can add the numbers of those who refuse vaccinations, most in “Trump” strongholds, who may inadvertently add to the numbers of ill, and dead, in our country. Yes, we are tired of the effects of covid on our lives, but, many survived due to the recommendations.
Smith (James)
@Dan That's a big problem: denial of science. And, we CAN'T make people believe in science.
See also