Coronavirus death toll passes 900,000 worldwide

The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has topped 900,000 since the respiratory disease first appeared in China last year, according to an AFP tally.

As the fatalities climbed, US President Donald Trump admitted he had tried to minimise the seriousness of the Covid-19 threat at the start of the pandemic, in audio recordings released Wednesday from interviews with veteran journalist Bob Woodward.

“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward on March 19, according to a CNN preview of the book “Rage”, due to be published this month.

“I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic,” he said in the recorded conversation with Woodward.

There have been more than 27.7 million confirmed virus cases worldwide, according to an AFP count based on official statistics, with the worst-hit region Latin America and the Caribbean, followed by Europe.

The country with the most coronavirus deaths is the United States with over 190,000 fatalities, followed by Brazil.

With billions of people around the world still suffering from the fallout of the crisis, a worldwide race for a vaccine is underway, with nine companies already in late-stage Phase 3 trials.

However clinical trials on one of the most advanced experimental Covid-19 vaccines, which is being developed by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University, were “paused” this week after a volunteer developed an unexplained illness. (AFP)

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