The global death toll in the coronavirus outbreak is fast approaching the one million mark. The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday warned that the number could double without a concerted global effort to control the viral spread.
Since the outbreak emerged from Wuhan, China, late-last year, the virus has infected over 32 lakh and killed 987,593, according to the Johns Hopkins University's tracker.
As the global death toll nears one million, the WHO said that it's "not impossible" that the number could double.
When asked if two million COVID-19 deaths were unthinkable, WHO's Dr. Mike Ryan told a virtual news conference that two million, or much higher, is quite likely before a vaccine is ready, if we do not take concerted actions to control the viral spread.
Dr. Ryan, who is the Executive Director of the WHO's Health Emergencies program, said, "It's certainly unimaginable, but it's not impossible, because if we look at losing one million people in nine months, and then we just look at the realities of getting vaccines out there in the next nine months, it's a big task for everyone involved."
Dr. Ryan said, "Not just test and trace, not just clinical care, not just social distancing, not just hygiene, not just masks, not just vaccines. Do it all."
"If we don't take those actions...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 very likely."
Meanwhile, Dr. Ryan noted that COVID-19 fatality rates have slowly declined over the course of the pandemic as treatments for the disease continue to evolve through the better use of oxygen, the steroid Dexamethasone, etc.
Notably, the United States is the world's worst-hit country in the outbreak in terms of infections and deaths. The nation has reported over 7 million (70 lakh) cases and 2 lakh deaths.
India is the second worst-hit, with nearly 58.2 lakh cases as of Friday morning, the latest available update. The total cases include 9.7 lakh active infections and 92,290 deaths.
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