COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has now killed more than 1 million people across the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The virus, which was first identified last year in Wuhan, China, has killed more than 209,000 Americans, with the death toll reaching over 142,000 in Brazil, over 96,000 in India, and over 76,000 in Mexico.
WHO’s Mike Ryan said Friday, “One million is a terrible number, and I think we need to reflect on that.”
So far, the United States officials have reported more than 7.3 million cases, with experts expressing concerns over a resurgence this fall and winter, which could be catastrophic for the nation.
The officials have also expressed concerns over a potential twindemic (coronavirus and flu) outbreak, while the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of easing.
In fact, most nations have been experiencing new waves of COVID-19 infection, prompting scientists to bolster efforts to bring a safe and effective vaccine as soon as possible.
The WHO has cautioned that the global death toll could reach up to 2 million before a successful vaccine is widely available.
Ryan said it is “not only imaginable but, unfortunately, and sadly, very likely.” However, he added that many safety and preventive measures can be taken to curb the spread of the disease.
“The real question is are we prepared, collectively, to do what it takes to avoid that number,” Ryan asked. “Are we prepared to fully engage in the surveillance and testing and tracing, in managing our own risks at society and community level?”
Many experts believe that the global COVID-19 death toll could be much higher than what is actually reported.
The coronavirus pandemic has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States and other nations, but in China, where the virus originated, the number of deaths has been much lower.
So far, China has reported more than 85,000 cases and 4,634 deaths.
President Donald Trump has constantly accused China of trying to hide the details of the outbreak in its early stages. He even accused the WHO of not taking immediate action to stop the virus from spreading globally.
Trump criticized the WHO for being China-centric and withdrew the nation from the global health organization.
The World Bank called the pandemic “the largest economic shock the world has experienced in decades.”
Prof. Linda Bauld of the University of Edinburgh said, “That some countries are faring better than others comes down to the effectiveness of public health measures.”
However, she said many of those measures, including contact tracing and isolation of positive patients, have to rely on people following guidelines and regulations. “For citizens to be able to do so, there must be good information that is consistent and comes from reliable sources,” Prof. Bauld added. “Governments will only succeed if they take people with them, particularly the longer the crisis continues.”