Global coronavirus cases top 20M as Russia approves vaccine

August 11, 2020
FILE In this file photo made from footage provided by the Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday, July 15, 2020, medical workers in protective gear prepare to draw blood from volunteers participating in a trial of a coronavirus vaccine. Putin says that a coronavirus vaccine developed in the country has been registered for use and one of his daughters has already been inoculated. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP, File)

ROME (AP) — The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide topped 20 million, more than half of them from the United States, India and Brazil, as Russia on Tuesday became the first country to approve a vaccine against the virus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that one of his two adult daughters had already been inoculated with the cleared vaccine, which he described as effective. “She’s feeling well and has a high number of antibodies,” Putin said.

Russia has reported more than 890,000 cases, the fourth-highest total in the world, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally that also showed total confirmed cases globally surpassing 20 million.

It took six months or so to get to 10 million cases after the virus first appeared in central China late last year. It took just over six weeks for that number to double.

An AP analysis of data through Aug. 9 showed the U.S., India and Brazil together accounted for nearly two-thirds of all reported infections since the world hit 15 million coronavirus cases on July 22.

Health officials believe the actual number of people infected with the virus is much higher than the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, given testing limitations and that as many as 40% of those with the virus show no symptoms.

As a result, the race to develop and deliver a vaccine has topped the global health care and geopolitical agenda, even as the United Nations has warned that any vaccine must be safe and made available to all, not just the wealthy.

Putin said the Russian vaccine underwent the necessary tests and offered a lasting immunity from the coronavirus. But scientists at home and abroad have warned that rushing to start using the vaccine before Phase 3 trials — which normally last for months and involve thousands of people — could backfire.

“The point is not to be first with a vaccine,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday during a visit to Taiwan when asked about the Russian vaccine. “The point is to have a vaccine that is safe and effective for the American people and the people of the world.”

The U.S. has a half-dozen vaccine candidates under development, China has begun inoculations with an experimental vaccine and European countries have several trials underway.

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