There are now 2 million deaths. 2 million stories. 2 million chairs were left empty at the dinner table.
The official global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic exceeded 2 million on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University of America. This tragic achievement came just over a year after the first death of COVID-19 was reported in Wuhan, China.
While the two million figure is terrifying, experts say the true number of deaths is likely to be much higher. Only confirmed coronavirus deaths are included in the statistics, which means that people who die without a definitive diagnosis may not be included.
With testing still insufficient in many countries around the world, there could be hundreds of thousands of additional deaths.
Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, said an analysis of excess deaths indicated that as many as five coronavirus deaths may not be recorded.
“We found that total deaths are, on average, 20% higher than the reported deaths,” he told CNN in an email, adding that the percentage varies greatly across different countries.
“There are high cases like Ecuador, Peru or Russia, where the total deaths are 300-500% higher than the reported deaths … but when we have the data, the average relationship is 20% higher.”
As vaccination programs begin around the world, there is a glimmer of hope – although it will likely take years for a vaccine to be offered to everyone.
Meanwhile, the epidemic is getting worse. The number of deaths is rising faster than ever. While it took eight months for the world to record one million Covid-19 deaths, the second million came in less than four months.
A number of countries, including the United States, Germany, Sweden, Indonesia, Israel and Japan, recorded their deadliest days in the epidemic last week. The number of cases globally is rapidly approaching 100 million.
The United States has by far the highest number of deaths in the world, followed by Brazil, India and Mexico. But the epidemic has reached every corner of the world, and only a few small, isolated countries have reported any deaths.
The virus has infected the elderly more, but this does not mean that young people do not die. The poor, members of ethnic minorities, migrants and front-line workers are dying in the face of the epidemic at much higher rates. But celebrities and royalty were not spared death either.