An official from the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday warned the number of COVID-19 related deaths could double to 2 million before a successful vaccine is widely used and could be even higher if collective action to curb the pandemic is not taken, reported Reuters.
“Unless we do it all, (2 million deaths) … is not only imaginable, but sadly very likely,” Mike Ryan, head of the U.N. agency’s emergencies program, told during a briefing on Friday.
The death toll is already nearing 1 million. More than 980,000 deaths worldwide have been reported in less than nine months.
“We are not out of the woods anywhere, we are not out of the woods in Africa,” said Ryan.
The WHO official said young people should not be blamed for an increase in the number of COVID-19 infections across the globe.
“I really hope we don’t get into finger wagging: it’s all because of the youth,” said Ryan. “The last thing a young person needs is an old person pontificating and wagging the finger.”
He said indoor gatherings of people of all ages are rather driving the epidemic.
The WHO official also warned that the African continent was not yet free of the coronavirus pandemic despite infections rates declining in many African countries over the last two months. In the last four weeks, 77,147 new cases were reported, down from 131,647 recorded in the previous four weeks.
As per the WHO report, some of the continent’s worst-affected countries have recorded reductions in infections every week over the past two months. Moreover, deaths attributed to COVID-19 have also remained low in the region.
Dr. Ryan said that though the pandemic was not a “catastrophe” in the continent, African countries still need to remain alert and continue to do testing and surveillance to avoid any worsening situation.