Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) emergencies program Mike Ryan speaks at a news conference on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Denis Balibouse | Reuters
As the global death toll from the coronavirus approaches 1 million people, it’s “not impossible” to consider that number doubling if countries don’t uniformly work to suppress the virus’ spread, the World Health Organization said on Friday.
“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 in regards to whether the coronavirus death toll could rise to 2 million people.
“The real question is: Are we prepared, collectively, to do what it takes to avoid that number?” Ryan said.
Since the coronavirus emerged from Wuhan, China, late last year, it has infected more than 32 million worldwide and has killed at least 983,900 people as of Friday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Covid-19 fatality rates have slowly declined over the course of the pandemic because scientists and health experts have made strides in treating seriously ill patients through the better use of oxygen and the steroid dexamethasone, among other therapeutics, Ryan said during a press briefing at WHO’s headquarters in Geneva.
However, 2 million coronavirus deaths, or potentially even more, could be reported before a Covid-19 vaccine becomes widely available if world leaders don’t