Covid-19 update: WHO says 2 million deaths “not impossible”

Covid-19 update: WHO says 2 million deaths "not impossible"
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As Covid-19 continues to spread, WHO says 2 million deaths is “not impossible” if countries do not work to contain the virus.

The coronavirus death toll is nearing 1 million. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), it is “not impossible” that the number could double.

“It’s certainly unimaginable, but it’s not impossible, because 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,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said.

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

He warned that 2 million or more Covid-19 deaths could be possible before a coronavirus vaccine becomes publicly available. This is also possible if nations do not improve its implementation of lifesaving protcols and “evolve the nature and scale and intensity of our cooperation,” Ryan warned.

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“The time for action is now on every single aspect of this strategic approach,” he stressed. “Not just test and trace, not just clinical care, not just social distancing, not just hygiene, not just masks, not just vaccines. Do it all. And unless we do it all, [2 million deaths] are not only imaginable but unfortunately and sadly very likely,” he said.

Meanwhile, Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on the Covid-19 pandemic, explained that some European countries are experiencing an “increasing trend in cases.” The increase is attributed to better testing, but there has been a “worrying” rise in hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions.

“We’re at the end of September, not even toward the end of September, and we haven’t even started our flu season yet,” Van Kerkhove said. “What we are worried about is the possibility that these trends are going in the wrong direction.”

Collective action

In July, a study from Britain’s Imperial College revealed that despite stern measures to combat the coronavirus, deaths may still reach the one million mark.

The study also found that tens of millions of lives could be saved if governments swiftly act to implement strict public health measures, such as quarantining, testing, and broad social distancing.

The data used by researchers for Imperial College modeling simulations describe the severity of the virus, covering its contagiousness and estimated mortality rate as well as demographic and societal factors.

The researchers examined different levels of response, from spontaneous social distancing to the lockdown measures imposed in the worst-affected countries.

“Our analysis highlights the challenging decisions faced by all governments in the coming weeks and months, but demonstrates the extent to which rapid, decisive and collective action now could save millions of lives,” the authors said.

“However, at the current time, it is not possible to predict with any certainty the exact number of cases for any given country or the precise mortality and disease burden that will result.”

The report does not cover the social and economic costs of the containment measures, “which will be high and may be disproportionately so in lower-income settings”.

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