The coronavirus has killed over 1 million people worldwide since it was first documented in December – a staggering milestone in a pandemic that has raised more questions than answers.
The highest death tolls come from the U.S., Brazil and India, according to Johns Hopkins University. Together they make up more than 40% of the global count.
India has surpassed 6 million reported cases of the virus, becoming the second country behind the U.S. to reach that many infections.
Photos: The Global Coronavirus Outbreak
Several countries in Europe are reporting concerning trends, prompting certain areas to reimpose restrictions that were lifted over the summer. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned last week that new mitigation measures in England could last into 2021.
The true death count from the pandemic, however, remains one of the many unknowns about the virus. Health experts have suggested that infections and death numbers are likely underreported. At the same time, research has shown that few have coronavirus antibodies and that the overwhelming majority of people remain susceptible to the virus, suggesting that herd immunity is far off. And it is also not known how strong the immune response is to the virus and how long it lasts.
As seasons start to change, public health officials are warning that outbreaks in some countries could get worse if people don’t follow strategies to slow the spread of the virus.
The possibility of the globe doubling it’s death toll to 2 million is “certainly unimaginable, but it’s not impossible,” according to the World Health Organization’s Mike Ryan.
The executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program said at a press conference last week that “if we look at losing 1 million people in nine months and then we just look at the realities of getting vaccines out there in the next nine months, it’s a big task for everyone involved.”