As the race to find a cure for the coronavirus increasingly gains momentum, so does the number of people infected with the virus globally.
Just seven days after the total coronavirus cases globally crossed the 50 million thresholds, an additional five million infections have been added to the tally, indicating how the second wave of the pandemic is dangerously spreading.
The world hit the 50 millionth threshold last Monday but a week later on Monday evening, according to data from worldometers.info, a COVID-19 tracking site, the number has jumped to 55.1 million.
The figure has more than doubled in four months after reaching 15 million on July 22.
COVID-19, the potentially dangerous pneumonia-like disease caused by the coronavirus and said to have emanated from a local Wuhan market to spread to over 200 countries, have also claimed more than 1.3 million lives.
That has exceeded the upper range of 290,000 to 650,000 annual deaths linked to influenza.
The latest update is coming barely hours after US drugmaker, Moderna, on Monday morning announced that its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective, based on an early look at the results from its large, continuing study.
The Chief Executive of Moderna, Stéphane Bancel, said the results had provided “the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease.”
About a week ago, drug giant Pfizer and German biotechnology firm BioNTech, announced the development of an experimental coronavirus vaccine which prevented more than 90 per cent of infections in a study of tens of thousands of volunteers.
Scientists across the world are racing to develop vaccines and effective treatments against the surging coronavirus pandemic which is already in the second wave that health experts consider deadliest of any outbreak.
Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, welcomed the rapid progress towards a safe and effective vaccine but warned that there was a “long way to go” in getting the virus under control globally.
He said it is not a wise decision to put all hopes on the vaccine development, noting that the infection could be curbed even without a “vaccine breakthrough”.
“The world cannot put all its eggs in one basket and neglect the many other tools at our disposal that… are effective for bringing this virus under control,” he said.
As of the time of filing this report, there are 55,071,276 confirmed cases across the globe, data from worldometers.info, an online dashboard that tracks the global number of confirmed coronavirus cases, showed.
The official number of global coronavirus cases is now at least five times the number of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to WHO data.
The five worst-hit countries: the U.S., India, Brazil, France, and Russia alone has a combined figure of nearly 30 million infections, more than half of the global total.
There are 15,433,237 active cases as of the time of reporting. Of that number, about 15,334,027 (99 per cent) are in mild conditions while only 99,210 (1 per cent) cases are in serious or critical conditions.
Meanwhile, about 38,310,049 people have recovered after treatment so far worldwide.
As of the time of reporting, about 1,327,990 people have succumbed to coronavirus, data from worldometers.info showed. That has exceeded the upper range of 290,000 to 650,000 annual deaths linked to influenza.
The United States which already has the highest number of reported infections in the world is also the country with the highest death toll of over 250, 000.
Some experts believe the death toll could be higher as many people suspected of the disease die without being tested.
Countries have continued to report inadequate testing for potential patients of the virus.