Close to seven months since World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic, it is now being estimated that one in 10 people around the world may have contracted the disease. The leaders of the World Health Organization (WHO) have made this statement in a special meeting held on October 5. This estimate, which would amount to more than 760 million people based on current world population of about 7.6 billion, far outstrips the number of confirmed cases as tallied by both WHO and Johns Hopkins University.
Presently, just over 35 million people have been confirmed as being infected with coronavirus. Experts have long said that the number of confirmed cases greatly underestimates the true figure.
Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme was speaking on Monday to a special meeting of the WHO's 34-member executive board focusing on COVID-19. He said the figures vary from urban to rural, and between different groups, but that ultimately it means the vast majority of the world remains at risk. "This varies depending on country, it varies from urban to rural, it varies between different groups. But what it does mean is that the vast majority of the world remains at risk. We know the pandemic will continue to evolve but we also know we have the tools that work to suppress transmission and save lives right now and they are at our disposal," he had said.
The WHO was meeting at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the global response to the pandemic. Ten months on, the crisis shows no sign of ending. Several countries are seeing second waves after easing restrictions and in some cases numbers are even higher.
Calling for solidarity and firm leadership from countries, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there had been marked differences in the number of cases around the world. "Although all countries have been affected by this virus, we must remember that this is an uneven pandemic. Ten countries account for 70 per cent of all reported cases and deaths and just three countries account for half," he said.
More than one million people have died from the virus, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. After the US, India and Brazil have seen the most infections.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)