The World Health Organization has warned that the global coronavirus death toll could hit two million before a vaccine is made available.
Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergency head, said that the toll could increase without concerted international action.
Coronavirus has taken the lives of one million people worldwide so far. On the other hand, 32 million cases are confirmed globally.
Several countries in the northern hemisphere have been experiencing the second wave of Covid-19 as the winter season begins.
“Overall within that very large region, we are seeing worrying increases of the disease,” Dr. Ryan said of the marked spike in cases in Europe.
He asked Europeans to inquire if they had done enough to avoid the need for lockdowns – and whether alternatives, such as testing and tracing, quarantines, and social distancing, had been implemented.
“Lockdowns are almost a last resort – and to think that we’re back in the last-resort territory in September, that’s a pretty sobering thought,” Dr. Ryan told reporters at the WHO’s headquarters in Geneva.
Dr. Ryan was asked if two million deaths worldwide were possible before the vaccine is made available. He replied, “It’s not impossible.”
He also said that the death rates were decreasing as treatments for the disease improve.
But better treatments and even effective vaccines might not be enough on their own to prevent deaths surpassing two million, he said.
He called on the governments to do everything to deal with the virus. “Are we prepared to do what it takes to avoid that number?”
“Unless we do it all, the number you speak about is not only imaginable but unfortunately and sadly, very likely.”