WHO warns 2 million could die globally before vaccine becomes available

The World Health Organization said on Friday as the global COVID-19 death toll approaches 1 million, it is possible the figure could double before a viable vaccine becomes widely available.

Dr Mike Ryan, the head of the body’s emergencies programme said reaching 2 million deaths is “certainly unimaginable.” But, he added, it’s “not impossible” given all that would be involved in getting a vaccine ready and distributed.

“Remember, we have things we can do now to drive transmission down and drive down the number of deaths,” he said. 

“The real question is: Are we prepared, collectively, to do what it takes to avoid that number?” Ryan said. 

The global death toll passed 980,000 on Friday, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. There are 32 million cases worldwide.

The UN health agency warned that several countries in Europe are reporting an increasing trend in cases and a worrying rise in coronavirus hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions.