More than a million people worldwide have died after contracting the novel coronavirus less than a year after it first spilled over to humankind, a devastating toll that includes deaths in both the wealthiest and some of the poorest countries.
At least 33 million people have tested positive for the virus, SARS-CoV-2, and the true number of infected is likely multiple times higher. Surveys in the United States and other nations have suggested that only about 1 in 10 people who contract the virus ever test positive.
According to a Johns Hopkins University count, the global COVID-19 death toll stood at 1,000,555 by Monday evening.
And the true number of dead is likely substantially higher as well. Excess mortality rates across the world show more people have died this year than is typical — signs either that the virus is killing more people than currently known, or that people with other health issues are unable or unwilling to access the treatment they need.
“One million is a terrible number,” said Mike Ryan, who oversees emergency response for the World Health Organization. “There is a lot that can be done to save lives.”
There is little indication that the spread of the virus is slowing. About a quarter million people across the globe are testing positive on a daily basis, down only slightly from an apex last week. The number of new cases are mounting faster now than at any previous time since the pandemic began.
“With the Northern Hemisphere’s flu season approaching, and with cases and hospitalizations increasing, many countries find themselves struggling to strike the right balance between protecting public health, protecting personal liberty and protecting their economies,” World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters last week.
Hundreds of potential vaccine candidates are in various stages of development and testing processes. The WHO is tracking more than 1,700 clinical trials of potential treatments for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. The global agency has asked for $35 billion to accelerate vaccine development.
But until scientists deliver a breakthrough, the vast majority of the world remains at risk.
More Americans have tested positive for the virus, 7.1 million, than residents of any other nation, and more Americans have died — about 204,000, according to data maintained by Johns Hopkins University.
But India now appears on track to eclipse the United States as the pandemic’s grim epicenter. More than 90,000 people a day are testing positive in India, about double the number in the United States, and about 1,000 Indians a day are dying. India, which has a billion more residents than the United States, has recorded just over 95,000 deaths.
More than 400 people each day are dying in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, according to data from the European Center for Disease Control. South Africa also has one of the world’s highest death rates.
Outbreaks in European nations, at the heart of the first substantial wave of infections outside of China, have subsided in recent weeks, though there are some signs of a fall resurgence as people return to work and school.
The United Kingdom, where 42,000 people have died, has implemented new restrictions on bars and restaurants, though some epidemiologists there warn that those steps are not enough. Israel has reimposed lockdowns for several weeks, while Russian authorities have suggested they too will order new restrictions on businesses.
In the United States, a resurgence of viral cases in Midwestern and Mountain West states is providing a preview of the tough winter months ahead, when more people stay indoors and risk becoming infected. Case counts are spiking in most states across the country, raising fears of a third wave of infection even before the second summer wave fully recedes.
“People, I think, really get inured to 500 to 1,000 deaths a day, like what’s the big deal,” Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The Hill in a recent interview. “No, no, that’s a really big deal.”