The World Health Organisation says a global coronavirus death toll of 2 million is ‘not impossible’.
Yesterday the WHO’s emergencies head Dr Mike Ryan said reaching that number could happen before a vaccine is made and widely distributed.
In a briefing, he said that hitting the 2 million mark is ‘unimaginable’ but not ‘impossible’ that the world could reach that number.
He added: ‘If we look at losing a million people in nine months and then we just look at the realities of getting a vaccine out there in the next nine months, it’s a big task for everyone involved.
‘There’s the issue of funding these vaccines. There’s the issue of distributing these vaccines and then the issues of acceptance.
‘And beyond that, with the work, we still have to do in controlling this disease. And remember, we have things we can do now to drive transmission down and drive down the number of deaths.’
So far there have been 990,298 reported Covid-related deaths and more than 32,647,382 worldwide cases, according to the Johns Hopinks University coronavirus tracker.
Dr Ryan also mentioned at the briefing the ‘worrying’ spike of coronavirus infections across Europe as many countries deal with their second wave.
Local lockdowns and curfews have increased over the past two weeks in Europe as France and Spain were experiencing daily cases in the tens of thousands.
Explaining the urgency of the rise in cases WHO regional director for Europe Dr Hans Kluge told a briefing that ‘very serious situation unfolding before us,’ as the continent reports higher cases now than at its peak.
The UK is also experiencing a significant rise of new cases leading the Government to project highs of 50,000 by mid-October if the infection rate continues to rise.
Similar to Dr Kluge’s briefing remarks made two weeks ago, Dr Ryan also adds that the high number is also due to the improved testing measures put in place.
However, he added: ‘What is worrying to us is an increase in hospitalisations and an increase in bed occupancy for hospitalisations and also in ICU.
‘We’re at the end of September, not even towards the end of September, and we haven’t even started our flu season yet.
‘So what we are worried about is the possibility that these trends are going in the wrong direction. Now, on the other hand, we are in a much different situation now than we were in a few months ago. We have tools in place to be able to reduce transmission and to save lives.’
As the winter months approach, many countries are having to brace themselves and their healthcare services for flu season and the second wave as its impact is still yet to be understood.
Calling on all governments to take action now, Dr Ryan said: ‘Are we prepared to do what it takes to avoid that number?’
‘Unless we do it all, the number you speak about is not only imaginable but unfortunately and sadly, very likely.’
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