Coronavirus updates: Pandemic hits grim milestone as global cases top five million

Posted on: May 21st, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

narvikk/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 328,000 people worldwide.

Over five million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 1.5 million diagnosed cases and at least 93,439 deaths.

Here’s how the news is developing Thursday. All times Eastern:

6:02 a.m.: Wuhan bans breeding, hunting, human consumption of wild animals

The Chinese city of Wuhan, ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic, has issued an outright ban on the breeding, hunting and human consumption of wild animals.

The move appears to be in response to research showing the novel coronavirus most likely originated in bats and was transmitted to humans through an intermediary animal sold at a wet market in Wuhan.

The local government of Wuhan announced the ban Wednesday. However, the decree contains numerous exceptions, including for animals used in traditional Chinese medicine, as long as they are not eaten by humans.

4:23 a.m.: AstraZeneca says its ready to supply potential vaccine in September

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca said Thursday it has booked orders for at least 400 million doses of a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus being developed by the University of Oxford.

The U.K.-based multinational company said it has the capacity to manufacture 1 billion doses of the as yet unproven vaccine and would begin delivering them in September. The drugmaker aims to conclude further deals to expand manufacturing capacity over the next few months, according to a press release.

“We are so proud to be collaborating with Oxford University to turn their ground-breaking work into a medicine that can be produced on a global scale,” AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement Thursday. “We will do everything in our power to make this vaccine quickly and widely available.”

Researchers at the University of Oxford began testing the vaccine candidate, now known as AZD1222, in healthy human volunteers in southern England on April 23. AstraZeneca said data from the first and second phases of the clinical trial are expected shortly and, if positive, would lead to late-stage trials in a number of nations.

The company said it “recognizes that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical program with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk.”

3:38 a.m.: Global cases top five million

The coronavirus pandemic hit another grim milestone early Thursday as the worldwide number of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 surpassed five million.

Just two weeks ago, the tally had crossed the four million threshold, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

More than a third of the world’s COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in the United States.

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