(NEW YORK) — The globe has hit a tragic new milestone, one million lives lost due to COVID-19. Johns Hopkins University reported that the grim number was hit on Monday as the worldwide infected rate has also surging toward the 35 million mark.
It is widely believed that both numbers are much higher due to testing shortages, unreported cases and national governments underreporting their outbreaks.
COVID-19 has infected every continent, except Antarctica, since it was first reported in China last December.
The U.S. remains the worst-affected nation — with Johns Hopkins University stating that America has weathered nearly 205,000 deaths and has more than 7.1 million confirmed cases.
India is the second worst-affected country when it comes to confirmed cases, with just over six million. As for fatalities, Brazil has the second highest death toll with close to 142,000 COVID-19 related deaths.
The race continues to develop a vaccine that can reduce the spread of the highly infectious virus, with 190 active candidates being tracked by the World Health Organization. Of that number, only nine have moved onto phase three.
Russia is the first country to have officially registered a COVID-19 vaccine, but health officials expressed skepticism over its effectiveness because the vaccine skipped the critical phase three testing.
Another key player to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to increase testing, with WHO announcing it will be making 120 million rapid diagnostic tests available to lower and middle-income countries — many of whom do not have lab testing available, which it could delay results by weeks. It is expected that each test will cost no more than $5.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “This will enable the expansion of testing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas that do not have laboratory facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out tests.”
He added, “This is a vital addition to the testing capacity and especially important in areas of high transmission.”