The coronavirus death toll could double to reach the two million mark before a vaccine comes into wide use, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) head of emergencies Mike Ryan has warned.
The current death toll, which is hovering just below the one million mark, could easily grow twofold without a “concerted” effort to make an effective vaccine widely available as soon as possible, Ryan said in a Friday news conference.
“Unless we do it… the number you speak about [two million deaths] is not only imaginable, but sadly very likely,” he said.
The official also spoke about the ongoing increase in spread rates registered worldwide in the past few weeks after anti-coronavirus lockdowns were eased in many countries. Ryan cautioned against blaming the latest spike on young people, who have allegedly become the primary spreaders.
“I really hope we don’t get into finger wagging: it’s all because of the youth,” he said. “The last thing a young person needs is an old person pontificating and wagging the finger.”
The situation in Europe, where several countries, including France and the UK, reported the highest-ever daily rises in Covid-19 cases, remains very “worrying,” WHO officials have said, urging the authorities to do their best to try and halt the spread before the season of regular flu comes around.
“We are at 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,” WHO’s technical lead on coronavirus, Maria Van Kerkhove, said.
Globally, more than 32.3 million people have contracted the disease with over 980,000 succumbing to it, the latest figures by Johns Hopkins University show.
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