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Coronavirus has now claimed the lives of one million people across the globe. But the death toll is likely to reach two million unless we get the pandemic properly under control, a senior World Health Organisation official has warned.
As the world passes the grim milestone, Dr Mike Ryan, head of emergencies at the WHO, said it was "not impossible" another one million people could die before a vaccine becomes available, while better treatments and effective vaccines might not be enough on their own to prevent deaths surpassing two million.
"Are we prepared to do what it takes to avoid that number?" Dr Ryan asked. "Unless we do it all, the number you speak about is not only imaginable, but unfortunately and sadly, very likely."
Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergencies expert, told a briefing in Geneva: “If anything, the numbers currently reported probably represent an underestimate of those individuals who have either contracted Covid-19 or died as a cause of it.
“When you count anything, you can’t count it perfectly but I can assure you that the current numbers are likely an underestimate of the true toll of Covid.”
The Covid-19 pandemic is now on a par with the 1889-90 global influenza pandemic. Here in the the UK, the Government's chief scientific advisers warned that, without any action, Covid-19 cases could hit 50,000 a day by next month, bringing with it 200 daily deaths.
More than 40,000 people have died in the United Kingdom – the highest death toll in Europe.