COVID-19 Cases Exceed Eight Million Worldwide

The bleak milestone arrives as cases spike in South America

Image of SARS-COV-2 up close.png
An up-close look at SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via Wikimedia Commons

More than 8 million confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus have been reported worldwide as of June 15, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. According to the same data, more than 435,000 people have died and roughly 3.8 million people have recovered from the disease around the globe.

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31, 2019 in Wuhan, China. It took until early May for worldwide cases of the illness to reach 4 million. It took just five weeks after that for the number of cases to double, reports Lisa Shumaker for Reuters.

As the world marks this bleak milestone, the number of reported COVID-19 cases continues to climb. “Although the situation in Europe is improving, globally it is worsening,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, at a press conference last week.

In a press conference Monday, the director general notes that for the past two weeks, more than 100,000 new cases have been reported almost every single day worldwide. “Even in countries that have demonstrated the ability to suppress transmission, countries must stay alert to the possibility of resurgence,” says Tedros.

The center of gravity of the COVID-19 outbreak is also shifting. While China and many European countries were affected early on in the outbreak, now countries such as Russia and India and many South American countries are witnessing spikes in cases, according to Reuters. With more than 800,000 confirmed cases and more than 40,000 deaths, Brazil now ranks as the second worst COVID-19 hotspot in the world, after the United States.

COVID-19 continues to kill about 800 people each day in the United States, reports Nurith Aizenman for NPR. The disease has also been shown to disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minority groups in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As Sharon Begley reports for Stat News, a new study from MIT researchers found that the death rate—the number of deaths from COVID-19 as a percentage of population—nationwide is about 12 per 100,000 people. The rate of death from COVID-19 is more than 10 times higher in counties with a Black population above 85 percent, the study found.

In the United States, the number of confirmed cases surpassed the 2 million mark last week, Kim Bellware and Jacqueline Dupree reported for the Washington Post. The virus has spread to all 50 states and killed more than 115,000 people across the country. As Emma Court reports for Bloomberg, experts are warning that as the United States reopens and person-to-person contact increases, the numbers of COVID-19 cases will likely increase as well.

“The biggest threat we now face is complacency,” a WHO spokesperson tells Adam Vaughan for the New Scientist. “All countries have unique epidemiological curves. Some that brought large outbreaks under control have seen flare-ups. Whether a flare-up becomes a second large outbreak is down to whether or not strong public health interventions are established.”

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