The United States, Britain, Brazil, and the European Union -- all high-income, upper-middle or middle-income countries -- together account for nearly half of the world's deaths, but one-eighth. Over 745,000 people have been killed in the United States alone, more than any other country.
"This is a crucial moment in our lives," Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious diseases specialist at Yale School of Public Health, said. "What can we do to prevent ourselves from becoming 5 million more?"
Johns Hopkins University has calculated that the death toll is roughly equal to that of Los Angeles and San Francisco. According to the Peace Research Institute Oslo, it surpasses the number of deaths in wars between nations since 1950. COVID-19, which is the third leading cause for death globally, is also responsible for stroke and heart disease.
This staggering number is almost certain to be an underestimate due to limited testing and deaths at home, particularly in poor countries like India.
Over the past 22 months, hot spots have changed and turned different parts of the globe red. The virus has now spread to Russia, Ukraine, and other parts Eastern Europe. This is especially true in areas where misinformation, rumors, and distrust in the government have hindered vaccination efforts. Only 17% of Ukraine's adult population are fully vaccinated, while only 7% in Armenia.
"What is unique about this pandemic?" said Dr. WafaaEl-Sadr of ICAP, a Columbia University global health center. "That's what COVID-19 is all about.
El-Sadr pointed out that wealthier countries have higher life expectancies and more elderly people. They also have higher numbers of cancer survivors, nursing home residents, and other vulnerable populations to COVID-19. Children, teens, and young adults in poorer countries are more likely to contract the coronavirus.
Despite the terrifying delta surge that reached its peak in May, India now has a lower reported daily death rate, even though it is uncertain about its numbers.
The apparent disconnect between wealth, health and longevity is something that disease experts will continue to study for many years. The pattern seen when countries are compared is not the same when viewed from a closer distance. Poorer areas are the hardest hit in each rich country when deaths and infections can be mapped.
COVID-19, in the U.S. for instance, has had a significant impact on Black and Hispanic Americans, who are more likely to be poor and have less access health care.
Ko stated, "When we take out our microscopes, it becomes apparent that the most vulnerable people have suffered the most."
The global vaccination drive has been influenced by wealth, with wealthy countries being accused of locking up supplies. While millions in Africa are still waiting for booster shots from the United States and other countries, the wealthy are shipping hundreds of millions of vaccines to the rest of world.
In a written statement, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated that "this devastating milestone reminds me that we are failing much the world." This is a shame for the entire world.
Cissy Kagaba, a Kampala, Uganda native, lost her 62 year-old mother on Christmas Day, and her 76-year old father days later.
Kagaba, an anticorruption activist from the East African country where multiple lockdowns have been made against the virus and a curfew is still in effect, said that Christmas will never be the exact same.
The pandemic has brought together the world in grief and driven survivors to their breaking point.
"Who is the other person there?" It is my responsibility. COVID has transformed my life," stated Reena Kesarwani 32, a mother to two boys who had been left behind to run her late husband's small hardware store in a village of India.
Anand Babu Kesarwani was 38 when he died in the midst of India's devastating coronavirus outbreak earlier this year. It decimated one of the world's most underfunded public health systems and left behind tens of thousands of people.
Fabrizio Fidanza, 51, was denied a last farewell in Bergamo, Italy. His 86-year old father died in hospital. More than a year later, he is still struggling to accept the loss.
Fidanza stated that he had not seen his father for the past month during a visit at his grave. It was the worst moment. It was the worst moment. But, I come here every week.
Today, 92% (or 92%) of Bergamo's eligible have received at least one shot. This is the highest level of vaccination in Italy. Dr. Stefano Fagiuoli is the chief of medicine at Pope John XXIII Hospital. He believes this is a direct result of the city’s collective trauma when the screams of ambulances were constant.
LaTasha Graham (38), still receives mail nearly daily for Jo'Keria, her 17-year old daughter. Jo'Keria died from COVID-19 just days before she started her senior year at high school. The teenager, who was buried in her cap-and-gown, wanted to become a trauma surgeon.
"I know she would have done it. Her mother stated, "I know she would have gone where she wanted to go."
Erika Machado, a Brazilian citizen, scanned the names on a sculpture made of oxidized steel and standing in Penitencia cemetery to pay tribute to COVID-19 victims. She found her father, Wagner Machado.
Machado, 40 years old, said that her dad was the love and best friend of my life. She traveled from Sao Paulo to visit her father. He was everything to me."