Google Doodle Says 'Get Vaccinated, Wear a Mask' As Delta Variant Threat Looms

The Google Doodle for Wednesday, August 4, is urging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear face masks as the pandemic continues.

The company's latest animated graphic shows the familiar letters spelling out its name, all wearing masks. It is accompanied by the caption: "Get vaccinated. Wear a mask. Save lives."

Google said: "As COVID-19 continues to impact communities around the world, help stop the spread by finding a local vaccine site and following these steps for prevention," linking to local COVID-19 safety guidelines.

The search giant advised users to "learn more about resources to help you and your communities stay informed and connected"—linking to its own COVID-19 resources, including the latest updates on the outbreak and vaccines.

It has also highlighted its Exposure Notifications System, a joint venture between Google and Apple created "to help governments and our global community fight this pandemic through contact tracing," according to the company.

The system provides notifications to your smartphone that "enable contact tracing apps to send you a notification if you've likely been exposed to COVID-19," it said.

"The Exposure Notifications System was built with your privacy and security central to the design. Your identity is not shared with other users, Google, or Apple," Google added.

Google has also compiled resources aimed at vulnerable communities, providing "expert guidance and support for groups facing higher risks to their safety and wellbeing."

These communities include older adults and "people who need to take extra precautions," as well as people with motor/mobility impairments, blind or vision-impaired people and deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

Threat of Delta Variant Looms

The Google Doodle comes as the threat of the Delta variant looms in countries across the globe, including in the U.S.

The seven-day average of cases in the U.S. has been rising sharply since early July, after declining since mid-January, according to data compiled by Worldometer.

In late July, the Delta variant was reported to be as contagious as chickenpox and more contagious than the common cold, flu, smallpox and the Ebola virus, according to internal documents from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that were obtained by The Washington Post.

Health officials were reportedly warned that they need to acknowledge "the war has changed," according to one CDC slide. The Delta variant's higher transmissibility means "universal masking is essential to reduce transmission," it said.

A mask wearer outside Google in NYC.
A person wearing a face mask outside Google's offices in New York City in September 2020. Noam Galai/Getty Images

Global Daily Cases Set to Peak in September

At a World Health Organization press briefing last Friday, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, its director-general, warned that the WHO was expecting global COVID-19 cases to surpass 200 million within the next two weeks.

According to the latest projection from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, global estimated daily infections will peak in late September, when the figure is forecast to reach nearly 6 million.

The institute's projection is based on the assumption that "vaccine distribution is scaled up over 90 days" and "variant B.1.1.7 [the Alpha variant] continues to spread in certain locations."

The 90-day period refers to "the time it takes to scale up to full capacity for [vaccine] distribution. So, for example, in the reference scenario, the maximum number of doses per day is 3 million, and that scenario assumes 90 days to reach 3 million doses per day," a spokesperson for the institute has previously told Newsweek.

In the "worst-case scenario," global estimated daily infections are projected to reach nearly 13 million in late September, it warns.

The institute describes the "worst-case scenario" as a situation in which "in those who are vaccinated, mobility moves towards pre-COVID-19 levels."

A mask sign at a California store.
A sign seen on July 23 at the entrance of a store in Los Angeles, notifying customers that masks are required. Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

The Wider Picture

Coronavirus has infected more than 199.6 million people since it was first reported in Wuhan, China, including over 35.2 million in the U.S. More than 4.2 million people have died worldwide and over 4.1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The graphic below, produced by Statista, shows U.S. optimism fading amid a resurgence of COVID-19.

Graphic of U.S. optimism declining amid COVID-19.

The graphic below, also produced by Statista, shows a comparison of COVID-19 cases per million people in the U.S. and the European Union.

Graphic showing EU vs. US COVID cases.