As the world has marked the grim milestone of 1 million people's death from the coronavirus worldwide, experts fear that the number may get double before the vaccine arrives.
Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO's emergencies program, said Friday that the prospect of 2 million global deaths from Covid-19 is "certainly unimaginable ... but it's not impossible," reports CNN.
"(If) we look at losing a million people in nine months, and then we just look at the realities of getting a vaccine out there in the next nine months, it's a big task for everyone involved.
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 primarily among younger people, who are less likely to die if they contract the virus.
But colder weather is beginning to set in and the flu season is approaching. The infection is spreading to older populations, and there are signs that people are growing tired of adhering to the restrictions.
Many around the world are pinning their hopes for a return to normal life on the swift development of a coronavirus vaccine. There are currently 35 vaccines in human trials around the world but no certainty as to when any will be approved for general use.
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief science officer at the World Health Organization, warned that it could be 2022 before people can begin thinking about returning to "pre-Covid" life.
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.
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.
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.