The Brazilian activist group Rio da Paz (Peace in Rio) held a memorial Friday on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana Beach to honor victims of the COVID-19 pandemic as the nation surpassed 600,000 deaths from the disease.
The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource center tells the Associated Press that Brazil reached the grim milestone overnight, recording 451 deaths a day in a 7-day average over the last week.
Brazil now stands second in the world for lives lost to COVID-19, behind only the United States.
Rio de Paz strung 600 white handkerchiefs on the beach, each one symbolizing 1,000 deaths from the pandemic. The group organized a similar memorial in June 2020 to mark 40,000 deaths.
Meanwhile, U.S. drug maker Moderna announced Friday it was planning to deliver another billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to low-income countries next year. In a message posted to the company's website, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said the company was investing to expand its capacity to deliver the additional doses.
The announcement is part of what Bancel describes as its five-pillar strategy to ensure low-income countries get access to the company's vaccine. The plan includes not enforcing its vaccine patents, expanding its production capacity worldwide, and working with the United States and others to distribute their surplus doses of vaccine.
The announcement comes one day after a frustrated U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres chastised the world's wealthy nations for inequities in access to vaccines throughout the world.
Appearing virtually with World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Guterres said, "Not to have equitable distribution of vaccines is not only a question of being immoral, it is also a question of being stupid."
The United Nations and the WHO are seeking $8 billion to implement their strategy to vaccinate 40 percent of every country's population by the end of this year and 70 percent by mid-2022.
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said Friday it has recorded 237 million global COVID infections and nearly 5 million global deaths. The center said 6.4 billion vaccines have been administered.