A million deaths later and counting…

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On 16 January this year, well before hysteria ignited in the general media, <emMedicalBrief reported that a coronavirus that had manifested in the city of Wuhan on 30 December 2019 — with 41 cases and 1 death — had for the first time been detected outside China. This week the global death toll passed the one million mark.

At the time, we quoted Maria van Kerkhoven, head of the World Health Organisation‘s emerging diseases unit, saying that “it is very clear right now that we have no sustained human-to-human transmission”.

The following week MedicalBrief published its first in-depth Focus on 2019-nCoV, now universally known as COVID-19, which had risen to 321 cases and 6 deaths. We noted a WHO a Tweet from WHO’s Western Pacific regional office saying that it was now clear that human-to-human transmission was occurring.

This week, on Monday (28 September) the WHO announced the  “agonising,” milestone of more than one million deaths. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said it was crucial that the international community learn from the mistakes made in the first 10 months of the pandemic. “Responsible leadership matters,” he said. “Science matters. Cooperation matters — and misinformation kills.”

In the interval between the first and millionth death, MedicalBrief has run nine open-access webinars on the pandemic with world experts, as well as published hundreds of authoritative reports, analyses and research papers, including selected pre-prints. At the peak of the outbreak in South Africa, more than a 250,000 readers a month were accessing our coronavirus coverage.

Among the international speakers at the webinars, facilitated by Professor Linda-Gail Bekker of the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation at the University of Cape Town, we’ve had the likes of Dr Nicky Longley, a frontline NHS doctor from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Prof  Peter Piot, the co-discoverer of the Ebola virus; Dr Larry Corey, renowned expert in virology, immunology and vaccine development at the Fred Hutchinson Center; Prof Graham Meintjes UCT medical academic and leader of the COVID-19 intervention team at Groote Schuur; and virologist Prof Hendrick Streek of the University of Bonn.

Please also look out also for our webinar later this month with Dr Anthony Fauci, adviser on health issues to six United States presidents and head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Registration and further details in next week’s MedicalBrief.


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