Worldwide COVID-19 death toll passes two million



The global death toll from COVID-19 surpassed two million on Friday, with the World Health Organization (WHO) urging mass vaccinations as the pandemic progresses at a record pace.

As of 1825 GMT on Friday, at least 2,000,066 people worldwide had been confirmed dead of the virus that first emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, according to an AFP tally.

The grim milestone came as US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said shipments of its vaccines would slow for a period in late January — a blow to fledgling campaigns to immunize people against the virus.

The WHO on Friday called for a worldwide acceleration in vaccine rollouts –– as well as a ramp-up in efforts to study the sequencing of the virus, in order to tackle troubling new strains emerging around the world.

“I want to see vaccination under way in every country in the next 100 days so that health workers and those at high risk are protected first,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference in Geneva.

His call came as infections snowballed, with 724,000 new cases recorded on average per day globally over the past week, according to AFP’s tally — a record 10 percent increase on a week earlier.

While countries from Spain to Lebanon have announced record caseloads, the surge has been most marked in Latin America and the Caribbean, where confirmed cases leapt 26 percent this week.

US President-elect Joe Biden said Friday he would harness the full strength of the federal government in a vaccine blitz: creating thousands of immunization sites, deploying mobile clinics and expanding the public health workforce.

“You have my word: we will manage the hell out of this operation,” said Biden, five days before he assumes leadership of the world’s hardest-hit country, where the death toll is approaching 400,000.

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