Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday

The global death toll from COVID-19 eclipsed four million people on Wednesday as the crisis increasingly becomes a race between the vaccine and the highly contagious delta variant.

Global COVID-19 deaths surpass 4 million amid rush to vaccinate

A person wearing a face mask walks among the graves of COVID-19 victims at a cemetery in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Wednesday. (Tatan Syuflana/The Associated Press)

The latest:

The global death toll from COVID-19 eclipsed four million people on Wednesday as the crisis increasingly becomes a race between the vaccine and the highly contagious delta variant.

The tally of lives lost over the past year and a half, as compiled from official sources by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the number of people killed in battle in all of the world's wars since 1982, according to estimates from the Peace Research Institute Oslo.

It is three times the number of people killed in traffic accidents around the globe every year. It is about equal to the population of Los Angeles or the nation of Georgia. It is equivalent to more than half of Hong Kong or close to 50 per cent of New York City.

Even then, it is widely believed to be an undercount because of overlooked cases or deliberate concealment.

Medical workers wearing personal protective equipment tend to a COVID-19 patient at an intensive care unit in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Wednesday. (Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images)

With the advent of the vaccines, deaths per day have plummeted to around 7,900, after topping out at over 18,000 in January.

But in recent weeks, the mutant delta version of the virus first identified in India has set off alarms around the world, spreading rapidly even in vaccination success stories like the U.S., Britain and Israel.

Britain, in fact, recorded a one-day total this week of more than 30,000 new infections for the first time since January, even as the government prepares to lift all remaining lockdown restrictions in England later this month.

Other countries have reimposed preventive measures, and authorities are rushing to step up the campaign to dispense shots.

At the same time, the disaster has exposed the gap between the haves and the have-nots, with vaccination drives barely getting started in Africa and other desperately poor corners of the world because of extreme shortages of shots.

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WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it is 'abhorrent' that millions of health-care workers have not received a COVID-19 vaccine because of inequities in vaccine production and distribution.

The U.S. and other wealthy countries have agreed to share at least one billion doses with struggling countries.

The U.S. has the world's highest reported death toll, at over 600,000, or nearly one in seven deaths, followed by Brazil at more than 520,000, though the real numbers are believed to be much higher in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro's far-right government has long downplayed the virus.

The variants, uneven access to vaccines and the relaxation of precautions in wealthier countries are "a toxic combination that is very dangerous," warned Ann Lindstrand, a top immunization official at the World Health Organization.

Instead of treating the crisis as a "me-and-myself-and-my-country" problem, she said, "we need to get serious that this is a worldwide problem that needs worldwide solutions."

What's happening across Canada

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As the coronavirus evolves, we have to change and adapt as quickly as we can to keep up with it, says infectious diseases specialist Dr. Karim Ali. That also means herd immunity has become a moving target. (Credit: Niagara Health)

As of 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had reported 1,418,644 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 5,471 considered active. National deaths stood at 26,387. More than 40.6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country, according to CBC's vaccine tracker.

Alberta health officials reported two additional deaths and 67 new cases of COVID-19.

In British Columbia, there were 59 new cases and no related deaths reported on Wednesday. 

Saskatchewan reported one death Wednesday and 53 new cases, as it announced that 50 per cent of its eligible population is now fully vaccinated.

In Atlantic Canada, there were no new cases reported in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island on Wednesday. Nova Scotia reported one. 

Across the North on Wednesday, there were no new cases reported in Nunavut or the Northwest Territories, but Yukon recorded 13 new infections as the territory continues to battle a surge.

In Quebec, health officials on Wednesday reported one additional death and 103 new cases of COVID-19.

Ontario on Wednesday reported 194 new cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths. The update came a day after the province's top doctor called for all eligible young people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of school's return in September. Dr. Kieran Moore said Tuesday that classes in Ontario schools are due to pick up in less than two months with the goal of holding more in-person classes.

A staff member packs items in the mobile health unit, also known as a field hospital, at Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital on Wednesday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

In Manitoba, officials reported two deaths and 71 new cases on Wednesday, as the government said new COVID-19 public health orders will come next week. The announcement comes after Manitoba surpassed vaccination targets, including 50 per cent of people aged 12 and up having both doses of a vaccine.

With files from CBC News, Reuters and The Canadian Press

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