World COVID-19 Cases Pass 40 Million 10/19 06:06
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the planet has surpassed 40
million, but experts say that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to
the true impact of the pandemic that has upended life and work around the world.
LONDON (AP) -- The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the planet has
surpassed 40 million, but experts say that is only the tip of the iceberg when
it comes to the true impact of the pandemic that has upended life and work
around the world.
The milestone was hit Monday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University,
which collates reports from around the world.
The actual worldwide tally of COVID-19 cases is likely to be far higher, as
testing has been variable, many people have had no symptoms and some
governments have concealed the true number of cases. To date, more than 1.1
million confirmed virus deaths have been reported, although experts also
believe that number is an undercount.
The U.S., India and Brazil are reporting by far the highest numbers of cases
--- 8.1 million, 7.5 million and 5.2 million respectively --- although the
global increase in recent weeks has been driven by a surge in Europe, which has
seen over 240,000 confirmed virus deaths in the pandemic so far.
Last week, the World Health Organization said Europe had a reported a record
weekly high of nearly 700,000 cases and said the region was responsible for
about a third of cases globally. Britain, France, Russia and Spain account for
about half of all new cases in the region, and countries like Belgium and the
Czech Republic are facing more intense outbreaks now than they did in the
WHO said the new measures being taken across Europe are "absolutely
essential" in stopping COVID-19 from overwhelming its hospitals. Those include
new requirements on mask-wearing in Italy and Switzerland, closing schools in
Northern Ireland and the Czech Republic, closing restaurants and bars in
Belgium, implementing a 9 p.m. curfew in France and having targeted limited
lockdowns in parts of the U.K.
The agency said several European cities could soon see their intensive care
units overwhelmed and warned that governments and citizens should take all
necessary measures to slow the spread of the virus, including bolstering
testing and contact tracing, wearing face masks and following social distancing
WHO has previously estimated about 1 in 10 of the world's population ---
about 780 million people --- have been infected with COVID-19, more than 20
times the official number of cases. That suggests the vast majority of the
world's population is still susceptible to the virus.
Some researchers have argued that allowing COVID-19 to spread in populations
that are not obviously vulnerable will help build up herd immunity and is a
more realistic way to stop the pandemic instead of the restrictive lockdowns
that have proved economically devastating.
But WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned against the
belief that herd immunity might be a viable strategy to pursue, saying this
kind of protection needs to be achieved by vaccination, not by deliberately
exposing people to a potentially fatal disease.
"Allowing a dangerous virus that we don't fully understand to run free is
simply unethical," Tedros said last week.
The U.N. health agency said it hopes there might be enough data to determine
if any of the COVID-19 vaccines now being tested are effective by the end of
the year. But it warned that first-generation vaccines are unlikely to provide
complete protection and that it could take at least two years to bring the
pandemic under control.