More than 5 million people worldwide have died after being infected with COVID, the latest tally by Johns Hopkins University showed on Monday.
The grim milestone was reached as several countries attempt to curb the spread of the highly infectious delta variant.
While it took just over a year for the death toll to hit 2.5 million at the start of the pandemic, the next 2.5 million deaths have been recorded over the past eight months.
More than half the COVID deaths reported were in the United States, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and India combined.
The US has recorded close to 46 million infections and nearly 750,000 virus-linked deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 66% of Americans have been fully vaccinated. However, vaccine hesitancy and misinformation on COVID vaccines remain a problem preventing pockets of the population from taking a vaccine.
Russia is currently battling an upsurge in the number of COVID cases. Less than 35% of the country’s population has been vaccinated.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently slammed vaccine hesitancy among Russians, saying that “there are just two options for everyone: to get sick, or receive a vaccine.”
South America has accounted for 21% of all reported deaths, the highest percentage as a region, with Brazil the worst-affected country.
With vaccines being looked at as the main strategy to stem the spread of the coronavirus, nearly 7 billion doses have been administered globally.
However, the delta variant of the virus has exposed the wide disparities in vaccination rates between rich and developing nations.
On one hand, some Western countries are facing an increase in vaccine hesitancy. On the other, developing countries lack doses to offer even one shot to their eligible population.
Several rich nations have offered booster shots even as more than half of the world is yet to receive at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.