A WHO official said that it is “very likely” two million people could die across the world from COVID-19 if the pandemic is not properly controlled. In the UK coronavirus cases could hit 50,000 a day by October and 200 daily deaths, according to the Government’s chief scientific advisers.
Dr Mike Ryan, head of emergencies at the WHO, warned it is “not impossible” that another one million people could die as treatments and effective vaccines might not be enough the curb the death toll.
He said: “Are we prepared to do what it takes to avoid that number?
“Unless we do it all, the number you speak about is not only imaginable, but unfortunately and sadly, very likely.”
The coronavirus pandemic is now at the same level as the global 1889-90 influenza pandemic.
The UK has the highest death toll in Europe with more than 40,000 reported deaths.
But the US and Brazil are the top two nations worst affected by the virus globally.
The US has recorded more than 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus and Brazil more than 100,000.
Experts have warned that an “increase in deaths is inevitable”.
Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, told The Telegraph: “Deaths are still going to continue to climb as the number of new cases hasn’t levelled off and we haven’t reached the peak yet.
The amount of new deaths in Indian is already expected to pass 8,500 a week.
According to a model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, at its most conservative prediction, the global death toll is expected to pass two million by the end of the year.
Last month, WHO director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that the pandemic could last up to two years.
He said: “We have a disadvantage of globalisation, closeness, connectedness, but an advantage of better technology, so we hope to finish this pandemic before less than two years.”
Charlie Whittaker, researcher in infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London, warned that “we are by no means out of the woods yet”.
He told The Telegraph: “Early on in the epidemic, a lot of our cases and associated deaths were in elderly populations.
“Now more young people are being affected and they have a lower, though not non-existent, risk of severe disease and death.
“But that doesn’t mean that good news is necessarily on the horizon – because if you look at what’s happened with some US states, like Florida, increases in cases in younger age groups tend to be followed by spread to other groups, specifically the elderly, the vulnerable and those most at risk from COVID-19.”
He added: “As we’ve seen across Europe, a lot of the gains that we’ve made in terms of suppressing the virus and reducing mortality are fragile.
And we’re by no means out of the woods just yet.”