One Million Dead from COVID-19 Worldwide

Yet another grim milestone.

The Independent (“Coronavirus: Global death toll reaches one million“):

The coronavirus pandemic has now claimed more than 1 million lives around the globe, according to the latest official death tolls, with more than 33 million cases.

The grim milestone was passed in the early hours of Tuesday morning. On Monday evening the UK announced a further 13 deaths.

In total, 1,000,555 people have died according to John Hopkins University, which calculates the totals from sources including governments.

Since the first-known cases emerged at a Wuhan wet market in December 2019, the pattern of life has been drastically altered the world over.

Within six months, Covid-19 had taken at least 500,000 lives and infected 10 million people. It has taken just half that time for the known death toll to double.

The virus has now spread to 210 countries and territories, infecting at least 32 million people.

However, the true number of deaths and infections are likely higher due to a lack of sufficient testing and reporting in many countries.

While the Hopkins and Worldometers data, which I’ve been using at OTB for the sake of consistency, differ slightly both show over a million dead. More than a fifth of them, 209,815, are right here in the USA.

And, yes, the real number is almost certainly much higher. Aside from the deficiency in testing, authoritarian regimes have strong incentives to underreport the toll. Most notably, China—which has over 1.3 billion people and where the virus originated—ranks on 44th in number of reported cases with 85,384 (Poland reports more) and claims a mere 4,634 deaths (fewer than Sweden or Romania). I simply don’t believe them.

FILED UNDER: COVID-19
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bill says:

    1,000,000,000 dead. Is that the total for just China?

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  2. Cheryl Rofer says:

    One-fifth of those are in America.

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  3. CSK says:

    @Bill:
    1,000,000,000 is one billion, slightly less than a seventh of the world’s population. I don’t think the situation is quite that bad. Yet.

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  4. Kathy says:

    Yesterday I caught up with a month old ep of Podcast 19, 538’s COVID podcast.

    There was a segment about the Netherlands, because one of the producers traveled there recently for family reasons. He noted few people wore masks at all, and there was no mask mandate at all, except on public transportation. Apparently any success by the Dutch til now depended on taking other measures, namely social distancing, rather seriously.

    The arguments against masks were interesting. Notably the fact that people would be constantly touching them (true), and possibly contaminating their own mask with SARS-CoV-2-tainted fingers.

    To this day, people who don’t distance, don’t wear masks (at all or intermittently or with exposed noses), do wash their hands and use up liters of hand sanitizer each week. they also quarantine their mail for three days, wipe down groceries with alcohol, avoid touching things as much as possible in public places, spray disinfectant everywhere, etc.

    They’re stuck in the early advice, which we now know to have been mostly limited by ignorance of this virus’ peculiar transmission means.

    This is something I’ve noticed in other circumstances, about people unable, or unwilling, to update their internal store of information and to change their behavior or decisions accordingly.

    While you can get COVID-19 from touching a contaminated surface, and while hand-washing is still a very good idea, that only diminishes the lesser part of your risk of contagion. Masks work against the greater risk of transmission. But lots of people are stuck with the first advice they got, and damn if they are going to change it just because we’ve learned something.

    Then, too, many make way too much about the discomfort of masks. perhaps there is much variation, but to me they are as uncomfortable as wearing shoes. That’s something most people do every day without complaint, even if they take them off at the first opportunity, or even sporadically through the day.

    So this is what humanity is suffering for: inability to update information and exaggeration of a trivial type of discomfort.

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  5. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: Yeah, wearing a mask seems like such a small ask. When did we turn into such a nation of whiners? On a doctor’s advice I wore a mask jogging over a winter. Cold, dry air was triggering asthma and the mask retained enough moisture to help. You also re-breathe a little CO2, but that cut my pace very slightly. Side benefit, no icicles in my mustache. A mask is just not a big thing. (The next winter I joined a gym with an indoor track. No ice on the track.)

    I’ve had a little exposure to risk management. As a result, along with the mask, I glove. Likelihood of surface transmission, low. Consequence, critical. Cost of mitigation, essentially zero. I have a few hundred on the shelf, alongside the masks.

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  6. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    I have questions about masks, too.

    For one thing, why hasn’t production of N95 masks and respirators surged through means such as the DPA? Sure, ventilators were important to have, but masks are as well.

    That said, what about other countries?

    More important, people who wear their mask improperly will report wearing them, but are not getting the protection, either for themselves or for others, that they should. And others point to these self-reports and say “see? masks don’t work.”

    Given the stakes, and how terrible this disease can be even if you recover, I just don’t get the resistance to reduce risk.

    Then there’s the whole thing about lockdowns. if you see the graphs for daily cases and match them to lockdown dates, you can see all places that had even half-assed lockdown saw fewer cases during lockdown than after reopening, or than before lockdown.

    Sure, lockdowns harm the economy, and no government can provide financial aid to those affected indefinitely. So there are no easy answers.

    The problem is that many people kind of prefer to pretend the pandemic is not a problem, that they won’t be affected, and let the corpses pile up.

    There is a convenient metric for this. Under 1% of the world’s population has been infected with SARS-CoV-2, and under 0.01% of the world’s population has died of this. But small percentages of very big numbers, like 7,700,000,000, make for big numbers as well.

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  7. JohnMcC says:

    We’re getting on up into world-historical levels. Roughly equal to the Armenian Genocide. A fair fraction of the dead during Stalin’s horrible Ukrainian Famine. Also a fair fraction of the Irish lost during Potato Famine.

    Still in early phases in India. The dead are mounting in S America. I see articles saying how lucky Africa has been. Isn’t it amazing? Well, best to wait and see.

    Just thinking how bad it could be is so depressing.

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  8. inhumans99 says:

    One million dead worldwide with a good chunk of the numbers coming from the U.S., and yet all Trump will try to do is change the subject to Hunter Biden tonight…sigh.

    One of these days, and it may not be soon, perhaps 4 years from now if Trump is re-elected, the average GOP voter might roll out of bed and come to the realization that holy heck, we need to get things in America back on track and they will no longer vote for a con-man (or pass on voting for Fox News pundits like Tucker Carlson if he makes it onto the ballot in 2024).

    Until such a time comes to pass, I will continue to feel fortunate that I have job, my health, a loving family, and enough common sense to avoid tonight’s debate like most people on this site plan to so I do not get all hyped up hindering my ability to get a good nights sleep.

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  9. Bill says:

    @CSK:

    1,000,000,000 is one billion, slightly less than a seventh of the world’s population. I don’t think the situation is quite that bad. Yet.

    Oops, I goofed. Can I have one last slice of vanilla cake before the firing squad is summoned?

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  10. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Bill:

    Nope, you get miracle whip on wonder bread 🙁

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  11. Gustopher says:

    @JohnMcC:

    I see articles saying how lucky Africa has been. Isn’t it amazing? Well, best to wait and see.

    Sub-Saharan Africa has had Ebola outbreaks, and many of the countries there have experience with limiting terrible diseases from that — contact tracing, complying with medical orders, etc. So, less lucky, and way more just being prepared, intelligent grownups about it. Containment doesn’t require access to expensive drugs, equipment or anything.

    The shithole countries seem to have better leadership than the worlds only superpower. Go figure.

    ETA: I got to edit for the first time since the site update. I actually feel like I have won some trivial lottery.

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  12. But her emails…

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  13. CSK says:

    @Bill:
    Of course you may.

    @Sleeping Dog:
    😀

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  14. keef says:

    Another grim statistic. Regular flu kills 650,000/yr – year in and year out. Number of posts about “grim statistics” at OTB the past 10 years? I’m thinking zero. I wonder why?

    OK, ok. No I’m not.

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  15. Kathy says:

    James, we really need a downvote button.

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  16. inhumans99 says:

    Keef, are you really saying that you are cool with this, the idea that hey about 1 million people die of the Flu every year so it is no big if we just tack another million dead onto the numbers due to Covid and why is everyone so stressed, after all it is just another million dead and people die every second of every day.

    Seriously, do you comprehend how your posts look and sound to the average Joe who reads them?

    Your posts are very tone deaf.

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  17. ROTFLMAO…
    The Trump campaign has asked that as a condition for the debate tonight, Chris Wallace not mention the 206,000 COVID deaths in the U.S.

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  18. @keef:
    “Regular flu kills 650,000/yr”
    Yeah…sure…per year.
    Covid has killed a Million in 8 months, or more than twice the flu if you extrapolate out to a year, despite widespread mitigation efforts.
    35,000 in America per year…versus 206,000 in 8 months.
    I’m just really not sure what the fuq your point is?

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  19. Jen says:

    @keef: Once again, let’s pull out the Scientific American piece on this FLU/COVID B.S.

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  20. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Naturally that the rich countries should spend much more money in foreign aid to procure flu vaccines, medical supplies, antiviral drugs, masks, etc. for people in poorer countries who die of Influenza every year.

    what else could a RWNJ possibly mean? That trump is blameless because SQUIRRELL!!11!

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  21. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    For one thing, why hasn’t production of N95 masks and respirators surged through means such as the DPA?

    Oh! Oh! Call on me!

    A little over a year ago I started working for my present company which makes equipment that can be used in the testing of N95 masks. Sales of that equipment has gone up by a factor of 5 or 6. I can personally attest that worldwide significant new capacity is coming online both by adding shifts to existing lines or by building new lines and new plants. But, and here’s the thing, most of that production is going to countries outside of the US or other short sighted countries. Companies are building that capacity, which takes 9-15 months and big investments of capitol, for countries and entities that are willing to guarantee relatively long term demand. That’s not the US.

    I have been working every week with one manufacturer with multiple North American plants who have expanded production to the breaking point. Before the pandemic pretty much any time I saw an N95 mask it was made by this company. Since a month after the pandemic I have not seen a healthcare worker or anyone else in the US wearing one of the masks they are producing.

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  22. Monala says:

    About a month or so ago, I noted that three states had surpassed NY in cases per million. It is now up to 13 states that have surpassed NY. Almost all of the 13 are states that Trump won (Nevada is the only exception), and almost all are states from the former Confederacy (except for Nevada, Iowa, and North Dakota).

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  23. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Companies are building that capacity, which takes 9-15 months and big investments of capitol, for countries and entities that are willing to guarantee relatively long term demand. That’s not the US.

    I’ve read something along those lines. Also that the N95 stockpile was largely depleted in 2009 due to the H1N1 pandemic. Sure, Obama should have rebuilt that stock, but so should Trump.

    Speaking of Trump, he could have used the DPA to get 3M to share manufacturing methods and know-how with other companies to expand production as well. Well at the start of the pandemic we knew N95 respirators were becoming scarce in hospitals.

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  24. Mikey says:

    @Jen: That article’s continued relevance five months later says a lot of good about the article and nothing good about fools like Keef.

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  25. Gustopher says:

    @keef: Ted Bundy only killed 30 people. I have no idea why people got so upset.

    The 9/11 terrorists got 3,000 or so? Nothing compared to the flu.

    BENGHAZI!! doesn’t even rank a Ted Bundy.

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  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan:

    For one thing, why hasn’t production of N95 masks and respirators surged through means such as the DPA? Sure, ventilators were important to have, but masks are as well.

    I was going to note that having such a surge would have required a functional government. I had no idea that market capitalism was also a factor in our short-sightedness, so I thank you for your input. It was very helpful.

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  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    Also that the N95 stockpile was largely depleted in 2009 due to the H1N1 pandemic.

    Worse than that. Companies that expanded capacity had nowhere to sell that capacity and were punished by investors.

    he could have used the DPA to get 3M to share manufacturing methods and know-how with other companies to expand production as well

    It doesn’t need to go to there. If the USA government put in a blanket order for the next, say, seven years, 3M would be happy to build one or more new plants, as quickly as they could. Trump could use the DPA to bump them to the top of the list for any vital equipment.

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  28. Kathy says:

    One should always try a little common sense first.

    If the flu were as deadly as these claims make it out to be, and considering the flu is highly seasonal, wouldn’t we see hospitals overwhelmed by flu patients every year as we saw and continue to see them overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients right now?

    Conversely, since we don’t see hospitals bursting at the seams every flu season, shouldn’t COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization have been fewer than we actually saw?

    I reserve judgment on how many deaths can be attributed to the flu. Clearly such estimates are not all that good, as we can see when we compare them with the current COVID-19 crisis. But it seems far more likely that every year hundreds of thousands of elderly people die with the flu rather than of the flu.

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  29. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    I reserve judgment on how many deaths can be attributed to the flu. Clearly such estimates are not all that good, as we can see when we compare them with the current COVID-19 crisis. But it seems far more likely that every year hundreds of thousands of elderly people die with the flu rather than of the flu.

    That sounds an awful lot like “Covid kills only 6% of the people lieberals claim it does, because the rest have underlying conditions”…

    I think the big distinction is this: The flu hits everyone affected with about the same short-term wallop — more or less — so mostly only people who are pretty fragile are succumbing to it. Covid has a pretty nasty, randomized wallop with randomized long-term effects, so it is getting people much healthier than the flu does.

    Also, if we were to look at the percentage of Americans who caught the flu in the average year, we are likely nowhere near that with Covid, and we don’t have the upper limit since we don’t have a vaccine.

    Also, if my doctor explained it correctly and wasn’t just lying to get people to get their flu shot, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine takes years to wear off, so even if this year they completely miss the dominant strain, you may get partial immunity from a similar strain you were vaccinated against three years ago. You basically collect immunities to the whole herd…

    So, H1N1 spread so easily because not only was it not in the current vaccine, but not in any of the previous vaccines. We are just lucky it was a pretty mild flu.

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  30. mattbernius says:

    For the willfully innumerate, a reminder, in over the last decade the flu killed any where from 12,000 to 61,000 Americans in a given year…
    https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html

    And this year Covid has killed over 200,000[*] Americans in approximately *6 months* — we have yet to get a full year’s worth of data.

    So maybe, just maybe, there is a difference.

    [*] – And that’s a number that’s based on periods where there was inadequate testing of cases.

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  31. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    If the flu were as deadly as these claims make it out to be, and considering the flu is highly seasonal, wouldn’t we see hospitals overwhelmed by flu patients every year

    A lot of the people who die from the flu are already in hospitals.

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  32. steve says:

    “I have been working every week with one manufacturer with multiple North American plants who have expanded production to the breaking point. Before the pandemic pretty much any time I saw an N95 mask it was made by this company. Since a month after the pandemic I have not seen a healthcare worker or anyone else in the US wearing one of the masks they are producing.”

    Sounds like 3M. They clearly had the best masks but we haven’t seen their high quality masks since a month into the pandemic. We have a bunch of stuff from other brands I had not seen prior to the pandemic. For my own part I went out and bought my own PAPR.

    Steve

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  33. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    That sounds an awful lot like “Covid kills only 6% of the people lieberals claim it does, because the rest have underlying conditions”…

    I was concerned about that comparison.

    It’s not what I meant.

    Many elderly people suffer from multiple health issues, and are far less able to fight off infections. So if a patient with renal failure, heart issues, etc., gets the flu and then dies with it, did they die of the flu?

    I think the big distinction is this: The flu hits everyone affected with about the same short-term wallop — more or less — so mostly only people who are pretty fragile are succumbing to it. Covid has a pretty nasty, randomized wallop with randomized long-term effects, so it is getting people much healthier than the flu does.

    Also, if we were to look at the percentage of Americans who caught the flu in the average year, we are likely nowhere near that with Covid, and we don’t have the upper limit since we don’t have a vaccine.

    there’s that, too. Young adults don’t often die of the flu or other common respiratory infections. many are dying of COVID-19. And you’re right we don’t know all the long term consequences, and won’t know them for years (they take years to manifest). There are no long term consequences from seasonal flu as far as I know.

    The thing is we’ve dealt with the flu literally for millennia. Mostly it’s adapted to us and we’re adapted to it. From time to time we may get a more dangerous strain, but that is rare.

    SARS-CoV-2 is new to us, it’s not adapted to humans, we’re not adapted to deal with it, and thus far we’re doing a lousy overall job containing it.

    BTW, H1N1 was a more dangerous type of flu, but 1) not that dangerous, 2) not transmissible prior to symptoms showing, 3) there were treatments for it, and 4) if I have this right, making a vaccine for it was like making other flu vaccines, which are made for different strains every year.

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  34. Barry says:

    @Kathy: “…wouldn’t we see hospitals overwhelmed by flu patients every year as we saw and continue to see them overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients right now?”

    From my experience, we do see them overwhelmed.

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  35. Kathy says:

    @Barry:

    Ok. It seems I posed a hypothetical when I didn’t know the right answer.

    Still, we don’t see news about overwhelmed hospitals, tired healthcare workers, warnings to delay elective surgeries, etc. during flu season.

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  36. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: I think the key metric should be lost years of life, rather than lost lives.

    The flu, roughly speaking, results in about a year of lost life for each person it kills. (Guessing on numbers).

    Covid hits a lot of mostly healthy people who had twenty or thirty years, leaves long-term health problems for those who survive (including, some studies are showing, the asymptotic cases, but the data seems early), and gets about a year out of the people who would be killed by a flu. (Again, guesswork numbers)

    So, covid is taking more years from more people.

    There is a kernel of truth in the “well, 94% had pre-existing conditions” argument, it’s what makes it so pernicious. We vaccinate old people against flu, but we accept the deaths that do happen pretty easily because they were going to die soon anyway.

    So lives isn’t the right metric, it’s just an easy metric. And the “underlying conditions” argument seems reasonable to a lot of people because it is using the wrong, but easy, metric.

    Clearly you don’t fall for it, but a lot of people do. I don’t think keef is an open mind on this, so there’s no use explaining it to him/her/them. But maybe this long ramble will stick in someone else’s head — one of the more conservative lurkers.

    Trolley problem time: do you run over the little old lady or the 20 year old? The 20 year old, in all likelihood (answer may have differed before RBG’s death).

    In terms of lives lost, covid is (200,000 / 50,000) * (12 / 9) times as deadly as the flu this year. Ballpark. Maybe 6 times.

    So the “it’s just the flu” crowd don’t even have a leg to stand on there. But in terms of years of life lost… 60 times the flu would not be an unreasonable estimate.

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  37. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: H1N1 was an amazing test of our pandemic preparedness, which we failed, but the CDC learned a lot from it.

    None of which was acted on this time. And some of which wasn’t acted on at the time.

    PPE supplies should have been replenished by the Obama administration — hard to do while playing budget and debt chicken every few months, so I give Obama 20% liability for the low supplies. (I’d give Congress at the time another 20%, and the current administration and Congress 60% divided however anyone wants, and am happy to quibble on levels of blame for different years)

    (Low PPE supplies are just one of the many failures, of course)

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  38. Monala says:

    @Monala: Oops, only two of the 13 states that have surpassed NY in cases per million were not part of the Confederacy: Nevada and Arizona.

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  39. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    There seems to be little preparedness anywhere for most things.

    In part I get it. It’s tough to spend money on preventing something which may not happen, or which may not happen for many years. that is, after the people who spent the money are out of office, and they won’t get credit for it (or won’t benefit from any credit they do get).

    Reacting to a crisis brings credit, especially if the crisis wasn’t your fault. Credit that can be used to your benefit at the time or later on. So maybe the incentives are all wrong.

    Still, people do prepare for likely eventualities, like Mexico did, mostly, for another earthquake.

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  40. Kathy says:

    On a related note, three players and five staff members of the Tennessee Titans tested positive for COVID-19.

    Both the Titans and the Vikings, whom they played on Sunday, have suspended “in-person club activities” (whatever that means), for an unspecified period.

    To be frank, I’d expected something like this to happen in week one. The fact it didn’t until week 3, maybe means whatever protocols the NFL has set up are helping.

    But if we’ve learned anything from this pandemic, is that stopping the spread of the virus is next to impossible, and the best we can do is minimize it (something the broke-ass Trump so-called administration has signally failed at). So I’d expect to see more players and staff get infected.

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  41. Steven Taylor says:

    @keef: Actually, I wrote about flue comparisons back April (and at other times as well.

    Spoiler alert: this is a lot deadlier than flu.

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