The World Health Organization on Friday warned that the global toll from the coronavirus could hit two million (20 lakh) before an effective vaccine against the virus is widely available. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies head, said the figure could actually be higher without relentless global action to combat the disease.
“One million is a terrible number and we need to reflect on that, before we start considering a second million,” Ryan told a virtual news conference, when asked if it was unthinkable that two million people could die in the pandemic.
Ryan added that fatality rates were dropping as treatments for the disease improve. But better treatments and even effective vaccines might not be enough on their own to prevent deaths surpassing two million, he added.
The WHO expert said the question was whether countries were prepared to collectively do what it takes to avoid the number. “If we don’t take those actions... yes, we will be looking at that number and sadly much higher,” he added. “Unless we do it all, the numbers you speak about are not only imaginable but unfortunately, and sadly, very likely.”
Ryan’s remarks came as toll from the coronavirus approaches the one-million mark. Since the coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China, late last year, it has infected more than 2.34 crore people worldwide and killed 9,87,679, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of worldwide recoveries is more than 2.23 crore.
So far, United States, India and Brazil are the worst-affected countries from the pandemic. The United States’ tally on Saturday crossed 70 lakh, with 70,05,746 cases and over two lakh deaths, the highest in the world. India’s coronavirus count rose to 59,03,932 on Saturday, as the country reported 85,362 new cases in the last 24 hours. India’s toll rose by 1,089 to 93,379. Meanwhile, Brazil’s tally breached 46.89 lakh.
During the press briefing, Ryan said that while cases in these countries continue to remain high, there has also been a resurgence of infections across Europe, prompting warnings of lockdowns similar to those imposed at the height of the first wave of the pandemic.
“Overall within that very large region [Europe], we are seeing worrying increases of the disease,” Ryan said. “Lockdowns are almost a last resort, and to think that we’re back in last-resort territory in September, that’s a pretty sobering thought.”