Over 2.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide

542204_51891056PARIS (AFP) – Over 2.5 million people have been confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus worldwide, with 80 percent of cases in Europe and the United States, according to an AFP tally Tuesday based on official figures.

There have been 2,503,429 recorded cases and 172,551 deaths around the world. Europe, the most affected continent, has 1,230,522 official infections and 108,797 fatalities, while the US, the country where COVID-19 is spreading most rapidly, has 788,920 cases and 42,458 deaths.

However these figures likely reflect just a fraction of the actual number of cases, as many countries only test the most serious cases.

COVID-19 ‘not manipulated or constructed in a lab’: WHO

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that claims the novel coronavirus was transmitted to people “from an animal” and originated in a laboratory in China are inaccurate.

“All available evidence suggests the virus has an animal origin and it was not manipulated or constructed in a lab, or somewhere else,” said WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib who was questioned at a United Nations video news conference in Geneva about allegations the virus spread from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Those claims were given fuel by US President Donald Trump who said last week that Washington wanted to find out whether the virus originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.

“It most probably has its ecological reservoir in bats, but how the virus came from bats to humans is still to be discovered,” said Chaib. “There was certainly an intermediary host or another animal that transmitted this virus from bats to this other animal, to humans.”

Chaib welcomed all countries to help find the origin of the virus and said it was only to be expected that a lot of “spurious” theories circulate in the media and social media when there is a new virus.

“[The] WHO is a science-based organization, and we are joining forces with a lot of experts to find the origin of the virus — in Wuhan or another place,” she said.

Scientists and researchers are scrambling to find a vaccine for the virus which has infected more than 2.5 million worldwide and killed an excess of 171,800.

“We have more than 70 vaccines in development globally and several therapeutics are in clinical trials,” she said.

The WHO is working with the United Nations and pharmaceutical manufacturers, so when a vaccine is found, it will be equitably shared with all countries, said Chaib.

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