Global Covid death toll hits 3 million, says John Hopkins University

Cases have been rising sharply in India in recent days. Credit: AP

The global death toll from Covid-19 has surpassed three million, according to the latest estimate by John Hopkins University.

The world reached the grim milestone as vaccination efforts in many Western countries are advancing at pace but in places like India and Brazil cases are out of control and deaths are rising.

The time between every million deaths has also narrowed by around a month each time.

It took just over five months for the world to pass one million Covid deaths from when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a global pandemic on March 11 2020 to September 29 that year.

Four months later, the world passed two million deaths on January 15 2021, and now three months after that, the world has just surpassed three million deaths.

The end of the pandemic may be in sight for the UK, but other countries are facing a much longer journey.

The true number could be even higher because of possible government concealment and the many cases overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019.

All of the estimates are based on data collected by the US-based John Hopkins University which has been monitoring the pandemic since it started.

Deaths are on the rise again worldwide at around 12,000 per day on average, and new cases are climbing to around 700,000 a day.

Maria Van Kerkhove, one of the WHO's leaders on Covid-19 recently said: "This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, where we have proven control measures."In Brazil, deaths are running at about 3,000 per day, accounting for one-quarter of the lives lost worldwide in recent weeks.This situation is similarly dire in India, where cases spiked in February after weeks of steady decline, taking authorities by surprise.

Listen to our coronavirus podcast:

In a surge driven by variants of the virus, India saw over 180,000 new infections in one 24-hour span during the past week, bringing the total number of cases to over 13.9 million.

Problems that India had overcome last year are coming back to haunt health officials.

Only 178 ventilators were free Wednesday afternoon in New Delhi, a city of 29 million, where 13,000 new infections were reported the previous day.

Vaccination programmes are underway in over 190 countries worldwide but the progress in some countries like the US and the UK are far ahead of others.

Globally, about 87% of the 700 million doses dispensed have been given out in rich countries.

While 1 in 4 people in wealthy nations have received a vaccine, in poor countries the figure is 1 in more than 500.On top of this, poorer countries are relying on vaccines made by China and Russia, which some scientists believe provide less protection than those by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Last week, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged the country’s vaccines offer low protection and said officials are considering mixing them with other shots to improve their effectiveness.