The coronavirus death toll has passed the symbolic 1m mark, a grim milestone in a pandemic that shows little sign of being brought under control.

More than eight months after the first confirmed Covid-19 fatality in the Chinese city of Wuhan, data from Johns Hopkins University published on Tuesday showed deaths globally now exceeded 1m, with more than 33m cases counted.

The US accounts for more than 200,000 of the deaths, followed by Brazil, with 142,000 confirmed casualties. The UK is fifth, with more than 42,000 dead.

“Our world has reached an agonising milestone,” said António Guterres, UN secretary-general, calling the 1m mark “a mind-numbing figure”.

“We must never lose sight of each every individual life,” he said, adding that “the pain has been multiplied by the savageness of the disease [with] no end in sight”.

Streamgraph showing total number of deaths has now surpassed 1 million

Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said the death toll was likely to be “much higher” than the figures suggested. “We must not forget that this pandemic is still accelerating and shows no signs of slowing down,” he said.

After taking hold in Wuhan at the start of the year, coronavirus spread rapidly to western Europe, the US and other parts of the world — leading to an unprecedented global lockdown and massive economic misery.

Economies have been crippled, output has dropped and tens of millions of people have been laid off. Governments and the pharmaceutical industry are racing to develop viable treatments and vaccines to stem the outbreak, with mixed success.

The 1m death toll has been surpassed as infections once again spread in Europe, which is grappling with a second surge in leading economies such as Spain, France and the UK. Most predictions are that Europe looks set to face another severe wave this winter, worsened by corresponding seasonal influenza outbreaks.

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The picture is little better in the US, where President Donald Trump seeks re-election in November despite facing severe criticism for his handling of the outbreak.

Elsewhere, developing economies dominate the list of countries with the highest number of infection, with Latin America particularly badly affected. Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Mexico and Argentina are all in the top 10 worst-affected countries.

Some nations have had success in managing their outbreaks. Italy, the first European country to be hit hard, was able to bring the virus under control and avoid a second surge, with the number of new daily infections below 2,000.

The likes of Taiwan have shown that it is possible to control the spread of the virus without damaging the economy. In China, life for many has returned to normal.


Via Financial Times