Coronavirus latest: pandemic could have killed 40 million without any action
Updates on the respiratory illness that has infected hundreds of thousands of people and killed several thousand.
Here’s the latest news on the pandemic.
27 March 15:00 GMT — Virus could have killed 40 million without global response
The COVID-19 pandemic could have infected 90% of the world’s population and killed 40.6 million people if no mitigation measures were put in place to combat it, according to estimates from an influential modelling group at Imperial College London.
The report from the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, published on 26 March, highlights the importance of acting early to suppress the outbreak. The analysis says that introducing social distancing, testing and isolating infected people would cut worldwide deaths to 1.9 million, if carried out when each country’s fatality rate is 0.2 per 100,000 people per week. Implementing these measures only when the death rate reaches 1.6 per 100,000 people per week leads to 10.5 million lives lost globally, it finds. According to Nature’s analysis of death rates from Our World in Data — counting each day at the centre of a rolling weekly window of deaths — Italy hit the 0.2 threshold on 2–3 March, the United Kingdom on 17 March, and the United States on 22 March.
The report did not quantify the social and economic impact of such policies.
The analysis was published on the same day that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the nation’s health minister, Matt Hancock, tested positive for the coronavirus. In a video address to the nation, Johnson said he had only mild symptoms and would continue to work remotely while isolating for 14 days.
27 March 03:00 GMT — Global infections number half a million
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases around the world crossed 500,000 on 26 March, according to statistics compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. The pandemic currently spans 175 countries and every inhabited continent.
By the end of the day on 26 March, the United States had overtaken China for the highest number of confirmed cases. Italy is also poised to surpass China in the coming days. Italy and Spain now have the two highest death tolls, with Italy accounting for more than one-third of the global total.
COVID-19 has claimed the lives of nearly 23,000 people. More than 120,000 have recovered from the disease.