The number of people who have died from Covid-19 disease worldwide has exceeded one million, researchers say, with many regions still reporting increasing numbers of new infections.
The Johns Hopkins University census shows that deaths in the United States, Brazil and India combined account for about half of the total number of deaths in the world.
Experts warn that the true number of deaths may be much higher.
The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, described the total figure as a “disturbing” number and a “sore point”.
“Nevertheless, we have to pay attention to the lives of all individuals,” Guterres said in a video message.
He added, “They were mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues. The pain was compounded by the brutality of this disease.”
This development comes nearly 10 months after the outbreak of Coronavirus news from Wuhan, China.
Since then, the epidemic has spread to 188 countries with more than 32 million confirmed infections. Lockdowns and other measures in an effort to stem the spread of the virus have plunged many economies into recession.
Meanwhile, efforts to develop an effective vaccine continue – although the World Health Organization has warned that the death toll could reach two million before the vaccine becomes widely available.
The United States has the highest death toll in the world, with 205,000 deaths, followed by Brazil with a toll of 141,700 deaths, and India with a total of 95,500 deaths.
Where is the fastest spread of Covid-19 disease?
The United States has recorded more than seven million cases – more than a fifth of all infections in the world. After a second wave of cases in July, the numbers decreased in August but appear to be on the rise again.
Coronavirus is spreading rapidly in India, as the country recorded nearly 90,000 cases a day earlier this September.
The number of confirmed cases in India has reached 6 million – the highest number after the United States. However, given its population, India has had a relatively low mortality rate.
Brazil has the highest number of deaths in Latin America and has recorded more than 4.7 million cases, the third highest in the world.
Elsewhere in the region, new confirmed cases are rising rapidly in Argentina, which now has more than 700,000.
Because of the differences in the way countries register cases of infection and death – and intermittent testing rates in some regions – the real numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths are believed to be higher than what is reported, experts say.
How is the search for a vaccine going?
Globally, about 240 potential vaccines are still in their early stages of development, forty of them are in the clinical trial phase and nine in the final phase of testing in thousands of people. And vaccine development usually takes years, but because of the emergency that the world lives in, scientists are working very quickly.
One of those vaccines, being developed by the University of Oxford – and is now in an advanced stage of testing – has shown its ability to stimulate an immune response and an agreement has been signed with AstraZeneca to provide 100 million doses in the UK alone.
In China, a potential vaccine has shown its ability to produce protective antibodies and is being made available to the Chinese military. However, concerns have been raised about the speed at which the vaccine is being produced.
Meanwhile, scientists in Russia say that initial tests on a vaccine called “Sputnik-V” are showing evidence of an immune response.
In a report they published earlier this month, the Russian scientists said that every participant in the experiments developed antibodies to fight the virus and did not suffer serious side effects.
Last August, Russia granted a license to use the vaccine domestically – the first country to do so. Once again, there were concerns about the speed of the process and some experts said that early trials were too small to prove the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine.
In the United States, President Donald Trump said that Americans will be able to get a vaccine by next October, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that a vaccine for the disease is unlikely to be widely available before mid-2021.
The World Health Organization has said that it does not expect to see widespread vaccines against Covid-19 disease until mid-2021.