(NBC) More than 1 million people have died from Covid-19 since the coronavirus was first identified late last year in China, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
With more than 200,000 deaths, U.S. continues to lead the global death toll, followed by Brazil at 142,000 and India at 95,500, the tally on Monday showed.
“Our world has reached an agonizing milestone,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video and written statement sent out shortly after the reported death toll hit 1 million. “It’s a mind-numbing figure. Yet we must never lose sight of each and every individual life.”
Last week, as 7 million cases were confirmed across the U.S., experts warned that a second surge this fall and winter could be catastrophic for the country, as hospitals could be forced to shut down or cut crucial services.
And the global pandemic shows no signs of easing — quite the opposite.
Countries around the world are experiencing new waves of infection, and scientists are ramping up efforts to deliver an effective vaccine.
The World Health Organization has warnedthat the worldwide death toll could double to 2 million before a successful vaccine is widely used and that it could be even higher without concerted action to curb the pandemic.
It is “not only imaginable but, unfortunately, and sadly, very likely,” Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said during a news briefing Friday.
But Ryan added that many measures can be taken to control the disease’s spread, along with advancements in treatment that could keep the death toll down.
“The real question is are we prepared, collectively, to do what it takes to avoid that number. Are we prepared to fully engage in the surveillance and testing and tracing, in managing our own risks at society and community level?” he said.
The global death toll could already be higher than what is reported.
In Mexico, which has the world’s fourth-highest death toll, topping 76,430, Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said Sunday that definitive data won’t be available for “a couple of years.”
Mexico does little testing, and many people die without a test — meaning many coronavirus deaths go unconfirmed, contributing to a significant undercount.
López-Gatell described the definitive death toll as “one of these technical details” and said the pandemic “cannot be measured.”
Unlike in the United States and other countries where the pandemic has killed tens or hundreds of thousands, in China, where the pandemic originated, the reported numbers of dead have been much lower.
According to numbers from the country’s health commission, there have been 4,634 deaths and more than 85,000 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
President Donald Trump has accused China of trying to cover up the outbreak in its initial stages, and he has accused Beijing and the WHO of not having acted soon enough to stop the virus from spreading globally, adding to growing U.S.-China tensions.