There were scenes akin to New Year’s Eve celebrations across Spain as hundreds of mainly young people gathered to celebrate the end of their COVID-19 curfews
There were joyous reunions among vaccinated parents and children across the United States too, to mark this year’s Mother’s Day, the second one celebrated during the coronavirus pandemic.
Some families separated by worries of transmitting the virus saw each other for the first time in over a year, emboldened by their vaccinations.
The United States is closer to getting the coronavirus pandemic under control and health officials are focused on the next challenge: getting even more Americans vaccinated, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said on Sunday.
In the UK the government wants to see “intimate contact” between family and friends “restored” and is expected to set out further easing of restrictions in England this week.
The good tidings are in stark contrast to the news from India where the death toll is breaking grim records and vaccination has slowed as the pandemic escalates amid calls for a national lockdown.
India will recruit hundreds of former army medics to support its overwhelmed healthcare system, as the country grapples with record COVID-19 infections and deaths.
COVID-19 cases and deaths have been hitting records every two or three days. Deaths rose by more than 4,000 for a second consecutive day on Sunday.
The vaccination program in India has slowed, due to supply and distribution problems.
Vietnam on Sunday reported 102 new COVID-19 infections as it battled a fast-spreading outbreak which Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said threatened political stability if not brought under control.
And the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo reached a grim milestone on Sunday with fatalities related to COVID-19 rising to 100,649, according to official data.
The richest state in Brazil now accounts for a quarter of all deaths connected to the coronavirus in the country.
If it were a country, Sao Paulo – home to 40 million people – would rank ninth worldwide in terms of pandemic deaths, ahead of Germany and behind France.
Brazil is among the world’s hardest-hit countries from the pandemic, crossing 400,000 deaths in late April in a renewed surge in infections that has prompted fears that more infectious strains of the coronavirus could develop.
It comes as the World Health Organisation warned of “vaccine deserts” where a dozen countries – many of them in Africa – have no doses at all.
The European Union said it has decided not to renew its order for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, partly because other vaccines appear better at preventing the new variants..
South Africa halted earlier this year the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after preliminary data indicated it may be only minimally effective against the variant which is dominant in the country.