More than 5 million people have died of COVID-19 worldwide

According to Johns Hopkins University data, more than 5 million people have died from COVID-19. Globally, there are nearly 250 million cases.
Official death toll reached 5,004,524 millions as of Monday night, but this number is definitely an underestimate. Experts believe the death toll could be even higher at 10 million.

This milestone is important as the number of deaths and cases in the US is declining. The summer's surge in cases caused by the hypertransmissible beta variant is now receding. However, cases remain high at around 73,000 per day.

The World Health Organization reported that the United States still has the highest number new cases in a weekly update from October 26. The United States leads the world in terms of the highest number of cases (nearly 46 millions) and highest death toll (over 7745,000).

The countries with the highest overall cases are, in order, India, Brazil and Russia. The UK currently reports the second highest number of new cases, with Russia reporting third. Russia has also seen a rise in cases with a 25% increase in daily cases in the past two weeks.

Brazil, India and Mexico are the top five countries in terms of pandemic deaths.


Pandemic plus

The rise in European cases is causing an increase in deaths and cases worldwide. Last week saw a 14% increase in deaths and an 18% increase in cases in Europe over the past seven days. Southeast Asia is also reporting a decline of cases and a 13 percent rise in deaths.

The pandemic is not over, as evidenced by the continued high transmission rates and increased cases. With the continued spread of the virus comes the possibility of new, more deadly variants.

Experts are already focusing on a new delta variant called AY.4.2 ("delta plus") which is gaining ground in the UK over the other delta cases. Delta has outspread other variants worldwide so far. However, AY.4.2 cases in the UK are increasing suggesting that this variant may be more transmissible than other delta variants. There are three additional mutations to the lineage, two of which are in the spike protein.

Nevertheless, the rise in AY.4.2 cases has been modest. It was found to be responsible for 8.5% of all cases in the UK last month. AY.4.2 has been found in 42 other countries, but almost all of the AY.4.2 patients (93 percent) reside in the UK. Scientists still need to gather more data to determine if this new lineage is more transmissible, and if so, how it will impact the outlook for the pandemic.

AY.4.2 is a stark reminder for the moment that the coronavirus will continue to spread and have more chances to develop, pushing the staggering global death toll higher.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated in order to correct the UK proportion of cases AY.4.2.