Gravediggers bury a coffin containing a Covid-19 victim at a cemetery in Bekasi, Indonesia, on July 4, 2021. Photo: AFP / Rezas

More than 200 million cases of Covid-19 have now been registered worldwide since the novel coronavirus emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 0700 GMT on Thursday.

At least 200,065,905 cases have been officially recorded, but the actual number is believed to be even higher, since a large number of the less severe or asymptomatic cases remain undetected, despite intensified testing in many countries.

The number of infections is now rising sharply, driven primarily by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, but the number of deaths is increasing at a slower rate, the data showed.

The global average daily number of new infections over the past seven days stands at more than 600,000, an increase of 68% over the seven-day average in mid-June.

At the same time, the average number of daily deaths stands at 9,350, an increase of 20% compared with the beginning of July. 

The gap between the number of infections and the number of deaths is most noticeable in the countries currently hardest hit by the pandemic. 

In the United States, for example, the number of new cases has exploded by more than 820%, now standing at an average of 94,000 per day compared to 11,000 at the end of June. 

But the rise in the daily number of deaths in the US is much slower, climbing 105% to 430 over the same period.

In Britain, where as many as 47,000 new cases have been recorded every day for the past few weeks – a 30-fold increase compared with May – the number of deaths has increased more than ten-fold from six to over 80.

Nevertheless, that is far below record levels seen in January, when Britain’s daily number of deaths shot to 1,250. 

By contrast, the average daily number of infections in hard-hit Indonesia has fallen by 19% over the past week to 35,000, but the daily number of deaths is up 8% at 1,700. 

The current wave in Indonesia is the worst since the outbreak of the pandemic and the country is now recording by far the most daily deaths worldwide. 

The difference reflects the inequality in access to vaccines – 58% of Americans and 69% of Britons have received at least one jab, but only 18% of Indonesians. 

The US health authorities estimate that people who are vaccinated are 25 times less likely to be hospitalized or die from Covid-19 than those who are not. 

The novel coronavirus has killed more than 4.25 million people worldwide since the start of the pandemic, but the World Health Organization estimates that the overall toll could be two to three times higher than official records, due to the excess mortality that is directly and indirectly linked to Covid-19.