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Experts fear the toll may double before a vaccine is ready - L.A. Focus Newspaper

The death toll from the coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, now stands at 1,000,555, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The grim tally has been reached in less than nine months since the first death caused by the coronavirus was confirmed by Chinese authorities in the city of Wuhan.

Since then, the virus has disrupted the everyday lives of billions of people around the globe and caused widespread economic damage. More than 33 million cases have been confirmed worldwide and outbreaks continue to plague many countries.

Europe, which became the second epicenter for the virus after China, imposed widespread restrictions on people's movements in the spring in an effort to curb its spread. While the measures had some success, a number of countries that were badly affected early on -- such as France, Spain and the United Kingdom -- are now battling to rein in a second wave.

The United States, with more than 7 million cases and more than 205,000 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University data, has been the worst-affected nation overall.

President Donald Trump is widely viewed as having mishandled the federal response to the pandemic and, despite the country's wealth and advanced health care systems, it has struggled to bring infections under control. Now, some experts fear Trump could pressure scientists into authorizing or approving a Covid-19 vaccine without a full formal review process for political gain.

Trump has repeatedly defended his handling of the pandemic. But he and the White House have been widely criticized for flouting government guidelines designed to limit the transmission of Covid-19, including social distancing and wearing a mask.

Soaring infection rates

On the other side of the world, India has surpassed 6 million confirmed coronavirus cases, making it the second worst-hit nation globally after the US.

Although the number of reported cases had been steadily increasing since March, India's epidemic intensified in June, when transmission began increasing at an exponential rate. It took almost six months for India to record 1 million cases on July 17. It added 4 million more in the space of just two months.

More than 95,000 people have died with coronavirus, according to India's health ministry. However, some scientists in India warn that the numbers are incomplete and misleading.

Latin America has also seen increasing rates of coronavirus infection, with the number of confirmed cases soaring in recent weeks in Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

More than 141,000 people have died with coronavirus in Brazil, the second highest total in the world. Another 76,000 people have lost their lives to the virus in Mexico.

Europe's second wave

So far, death rates in Europe's second wave are still well below their peak in April. Experts warn, however, that the signs point to more tragedy ahead this winter.

Measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing have become the norm and the latest spread of infection has been primaril

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