Global virus toll passes 1.5 million as nations plan for vaccine

The world passed the grim milestone of 1.5 million global coronavirus deaths on Thursday, as several nations planned to deliver much hoped-for vaccines early next year to break the cycle of lockdowns and restrictions.

But even as the latest positive news about a vaccine was announced, with the Moderna candidate showing it confers immunity for at least three months, several countries marked new Covid-19 records.

Italy registered 993 deaths, topping its previous record of 969 earlier in the year when it was the first European country to be affected by the pandemic.

Iran, the Middle East’s hardest hit country, passed one million cases even as authorities considered easing restrictions and Britain recorded over 60,000 deaths.

The world’s hardest-hit country, the United States, recorded its highest daily death toll — 2,731 — since March, as the number of hospitalised for the virus crossed 100,000 for the first time.

And Robert Redfield, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that rough times were ahead in January and February.

“I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation,” he said, warning that as many as 450,000 could be dead in the US by February. (AFP)