Countries prepare for vaccinations as global number of cases and deaths reach new records

FILE PHOTO: A laboratory technician is seen at the Inselspital Universitaetsspital Bern university hospital during researches for a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bern, Switzerland April 22, 2020. Picture taken April 22, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

Greece plans to set up more than 1,000 vaccination centres as it awaits a successful vaccine against COVID-19, its health minister said on Wednesday.

The announcements made over the last two weeks that two vaccines were effective in trials have raised hope that COVID-19, which has infected 54 million people worldwide and killed 1.3 million, will be largely defeated over the coming year.

Greece has seen an aggressive spike in novel coronavirus cases since early October that forced it to impose a nationwide lockdown, the second since the pandemic broke out. “Just a little bit more patience, let’s hang on together, united,” Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said as he detailed the country’s immunization programme.

Portugal has set up a taskforce to come up with a COVID-19 vaccination strategy and hopes to be prepared to start distributing shots as early as January, Health Minister Marta Temido said on Wednesday. Temido said experts were working to decide which groups should get the vaccine first as well as distribution logistics from transport to storage.

“There’s a possibility one of the first vaccines will arrive in January,” Temido told reporters. “What we want is for the country to be prepared to ensure storage, distribution and safe use.”

KLM-Air France and Lufthansa have both been reported as preparing for the distribution of the Covid-19 jab once this is ready for air-lift. 

The number of reported global daily deaths from the coronavirus stood at 10,816 on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, the highest single-day death count as the virus’s global epicenter the United States entered winter. The previous record of global daily deaths was 10,733, registered on Nov. 4, according to a tally by the Reuters News Agency. The United States, the worst-affected country worldwide, has reported about 11.38 million infections and 248,574 deaths since the pandemic started, the tally showed.

In Africa total coronavirus cases surpassed the 2 million mark on Wednesday despite the slow addition of reported infections compared to other regions around the world.

With over 2,012,000 cases, Africa represents under 4% of the world’s reported cases, which many experts believe to be an undercount. They believe that many COVID-19 infections and related deaths in Africa are likely being missed as testing rates in the continent of about 1.3 billion people are among the lowest in the world, and many deaths of all types go unrecorded.