Global Covid-19 deaths exceed one million. Experts fear toll will double before vaccine is ready

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The death toll from the coronavirus, responsible for Covid-19, now stands at 1,000,555, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Since then, the virus has disrupted the daily lives of billions of people around the world and caused considerable economic damage. More than 33 million cases have been confirmed worldwide and outbreaks continue to rage in many countries.

Europe, which has become the virus’s second epicenter after China, imposed widespread restrictions on the movement of people in the spring in an effort to curb its spread. While the measures have had some success, a number of countries that were hit hard at the start – such as France, Spain and the UK – are now struggling to contain a second wave.

The United States, with more than 7 million cases and more than 205,000 deaths according to data from Johns Hopkins University, was the worst affected country overall.President Donald Trump is widely seen as having mismanaged the federal response to the pandemic and, despite the country’s wealth and advanced health systems, he has struggled to bring infections under control. Now, some experts fear Trump will pressure scientists to authorize or approve a Covid-19 vaccine without a full formal review process for political purposes.

Trump has repeatedly defended his handling of the pandemic. But he and the White House have been widely criticized for flouting government guidelines to limit the transmission of Covid-19, including social distancing and wearing a mask.

Soaring infection rates

On the other side of the world, India has passed 6 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, making it the second most affected country in the world after the United States.

Although the number of reported cases has increased steadily since March, the Indian epidemic escalated in June, when transmission began to increase at an exponential rate. It took India nearly six months to register 1 million cases on July 17. She added 4 million more in just two months.

More than 95,000 people have died from coronavirus, according to the Indian Ministry of Health. However, some Indian scientists warn that the numbers are incomplete and misleading.

Latin America has also seen an increase in coronavirus infection rates, with the number of confirmed cases increasing in recent weeks in Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, data from Johns University shows. Hopkins.

More than 141,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Brazil, the second-highest total in the world. Another 76,000 people lost their lives to the virus in Mexico.

Aerial view of an area of ​​the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery where new graves were dug in Manaus, Brazil on May 22, 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Europe’s second wave

So far, death rates in Europe’s second wave are still well below their April high. Experts warn, however, that signs point to more tragedies to come this winter.

Measures such as social distancing and wearing masks have become the norm, and the latest spread of the infection has mainly occurred among young people, who are less likely to die if they contract the virus.

But colder weather is starting to set in and flu season is approaching. The infection is spreading to older populations, and there are signs that people are tired of following the restrictions.

Hospitals are now better able to diagnose and treat the virus, meaning that death rates for intensive care patients in some European countries have dropped from around 50% in the spring to around 20%, researcher Michael Head principal in global health at the British University of Southampton, told CNN.

But Bulgaria, Croatia, Malta, Romania and Spain have all seen sustained increases in the death rate.

A general view shows some of the 35 coffins of the deceased stored in a warehouse in Ponte San Pietro, near Bergamo, Lombardy, on March 26, 2020, before being taken to another region for cremation during the country's lockdown.

Hope vaccines

Many people around the world are placing their hopes of a return to normal life on the rapid development of a vaccine against the coronavirus. There are currently 35 vaccines in human trials worldwide, but no certainty as to when any of them will be approved for general use.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, scientific director of the World Health Organization, has warned that it could be 2022 before people can begin to think about returning to ‘pre-Covid’ life.

Relatives wearing personal protective equipment offer funeral prayers for a woman who died of coronavirus, during her burial in a cemetery in Srinagar on May 21, 2020.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths from the coronavirus continues to rise. It took until the end of June for the global death toll to reach 500,000, but only three months since (June 29) for that number to double.

The prospect of 2 million deaths worldwide from Covid-19 is “certainly unimaginable … but it is not impossible,” Dr Mike Ryan, WHO’s emergency program chief, said on Friday.

“(If) we envision losing a million people in nine months, and then we just look at the realities of getting a vaccine to market in the next nine months, that’s a big task for everyone involved. ”

The virus is proving difficult to keep under control, even in countries that have had early success in reducing transmission.

In April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted that his country had shown the world how to contain the coronavirus and he hoped that would show the world how to restart an economy emerging from lockdown. Today, Israel may be the first in the world to impose a second blanket lockdown due to an upsurge in infections.

A week after his second lockdown, Netanyahu announced a significant tightening of restrictions as cases continued to rise, including strict limits on protests and prayer groups and a wider closure of workplaces.

Other governments hope to avoid following this path as they fight to keep their populations safe and keep their economies afloat.

CNN’s Emma Reynolds contributed to this report.

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