Global corona toll hits 328,220

22 May, 2020 12:00 AM printer

PARIS: The novel coronavirus has killed at least 328,220 people since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Thursday, reports AFP.   

At least 5,012,630 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 1,854,900 are now considered recovered.

The number of infections is almost double the toll of 2,513,117 one month ago on April 21.

Latin America in particular has seen a rapid rise in the number of cases, led largely by Brazil.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.

Many countries are testing only symptomatic or the most serious cases.

The United States remains the country with the highest number of deaths overall with 93,439 from 1,551,853 cases. At least 294,312 people have been declared recovered.

After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Britain with 35,704 deaths from 248,293 cases, Italy with 32,330 from 227,364 cases, France at 28,132 deaths and 181,575 cases, and Spain (27,888 and 232,555). China — excluding Hong Kong and Macau — has to date declared 4,634 deaths and 82,967 cases. It has 78,249 recovered cases.    

Europe overall has 169,932 deaths from 1,955,600 cases, Latin America and the Caribbean 33,945 deaths from 612,891 cases, Asia 13,158 deaths from 399,080 cases, the Middle East 8,486 deaths from 309,107 cases, Africa, 2,996 deaths from 95,533 cases, and Oceania 128 deaths from 8,426 cases.

Meanwhile, British pharmaceuticals group AstraZeneca on Thursday said it had secured more than $1.0 billion from the United States to help fund production of its coronavirus vaccine.

AstraZeneca is partnering with University of Oxford to develop and distribute a vaccine being trialled in the UK.

It comes amid concerns that the United States could have a vaccine before other countries thanks to its large-scale funding of pharmaceutical companies around the world.

France has slammed Paris-based drugs giant Sanofi for suggesting the US would receive its vaccine first, as world leaders demand that the science should be shared among nations.

AstraZeneca on Thursday said it had “received support of more than $1.0 billion from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authorit for the development, production and delivery of the vaccine”.

The company however added it was in contact with governments and international health institutions to ensure the vaccine is available globally.

AstraZeneca said it had concluded deals for the first 400 million doses of the vaccine — and has manufacturing capacity for one billion doses, with it hoping to begin deliveries in September.

“AstraZeneca is advancing its ongoing response to address the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, collaborating with a number of countries and multilateral organisations to make the University of Oxford’s vaccine widely accessible around the world in an equitable manner,” a statement said.

The company added it was “engaging with international organisations”, including the World Health Organization, for the fair allocation and distribution of the vaccine around the world”.

“AstraZeneca is also in discussions with governments around the world to increase access.”

Britain this week pledged £84 million ($103 million, 93 million euros) to be split between researchers at Oxford University and Imperial College London to help finance a COVID-19 vaccine.

The UK government had already given £47 million.

Human trials of the vaccine developed by Oxford’s Jenner Institute began last month, with hundreds of people in Britain volunteering to be part of the study.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 325,000 people worldwide, three-quarters of them in Europe and the United States, since breaking out in China last December.

More than five million have been infected globally by the pandemic, sparking a rush by pharmaceutical companies across the world to try and develop treatments and vaccines.

“This pandemic is a global tragedy and it is a challenge for all of humanity,” AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot said in Thursday’s statement.

“We need to defeat the virus together or it will continue to inflict huge personal suffering and leave long-lasting economic and social scars in every country around the world.”