Worldwide death toll from COVID-19 surpasses 2 million

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FILE – In this April 7, 2020, file photo, workers in protective suits walk past the Hankou railway station on the eve of its resuming outbound traffic in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province. China says a group of experts from the World Health Organization are due to arrive Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. A one-sentence announcement from the National Health Commission on Monday, Jan. 11, said the experts would be meeting with Chinese counterparts but gave no other details.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 2 million Friday as vaccines developed at breakneck speed are being rolled out around the world in an all-out campaign to vanquish the threat.

The milestone was reached just over a year after the coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

The number of dead, compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Brussels, Mecca, Minsk or Vienna.

While the count is based on figures supplied by government agencies around the world, the real toll is believed to be significantly higher, in part because of inadequate testing and the many fatalities that were inaccurately attributed to other causes, especially early in the outbreak.

It took eight months to hit 1 million dead. It took less than four months after that to reach the next million.

“Behind this terrible number are names and faces — the smile that will now only be a memory, the seat forever empty at the dinner table, the room that echoes with the silence of a loved one,” said U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. He said the toll “has been made worse by the absence of a global coordinated effort.”

“Science has succeeded, but solidarity has failed,” he said.

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