More than 4 million individuals have recovered from COVID-19 around the world, days after 8 million cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed globally, according to the most recent data available from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
As of June 17, there were more than 583,000 recoveries, 2 million confirmed cases and 117,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States, which remained the global epicenter of the virus in both the number of cases and reported deaths. Around the world, there were more than 446,000 deaths.
The milestone comes at a time when two COVID-19 vaccine candidates have entered Phase III, the large-scale efficacy test stage, according to The New York Times.
It also comes shortly after two notable developments regarding COVID-19 treatment. On June 16, the National Institutes of Health released research on a cancer drug that may reduce severe COVID-19 symptoms.
In the United Kingdom, researchers found evidence that the steroid dexamethasone had reduced COVID-19 deaths of severely ill patients by up to one third.
On June 15, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rescinded its emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, drugs that had been previously touted by President Donald Trump as unproven treatments for COVID-19, and one that the president said he was taking himself to ward off symptoms.
While the recovery milestone could be interpreted as progress, there is still heavy concern over the virus’ longstanding threat as news cases and deaths continue to rise around the world.
Data available as of June 16 from the University of Washington projected that the number of U.S. COVID-19 deaths is expected to surpass 200,000 by October 1. That projection is based on certain assumptions, such as schools resuming in-person instruction in the fall, or certain states and cities loosening lockdown measures.
Nearly half of all U.S. states that rolled back their lockdown measures experienced an uptick in new confirmed cases, according to the Associated Press. Florida, one of the earliest states to reopen, experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases with at least 1,000 new confirmed cases each day since June 1.
From June 11 to June 15, there were four days where new cases jumped over 2,000. From May 18 to May 31, there had only been two days where new confirmed cases topped 1,000, according to Florida’s health department.
The rapid increase in cases isn’t limited to the United States. Brazil is reporting a surge in COVID-19 cases, with the country now ranking second behind the United States in confirmed COVID-19 case and death totals with just over 923,000 and 45,000, respectively, as of June 17, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Beijing also experienced a new coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday, with China having more than 84,000 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins. There have been previous concerns, however, over the accuracy of the COVID-19 data that China shares with the public.
Health officials have also expressed concern that protests over the death of George Floyd may be fueling COVID-19 infections.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield previously warned that recent protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death could be a “seeding event” for coronavirus infections and urged participants to get tested.
“And the way to minimize that is to have each individual to recognize it’s to the advantage of them to protect their loved ones, to (say), ‘Hey, I was out, I need to go get tested,’” Redfield said.
After months away from the campaign trail, President Donald Trump plans to rally his supporters Saturday for the first time since most of the country was shuttered by the coronavirus. But health experts are questioning that decision, citing the danger of infection spreading among the crowd and sparking outbreaks when people return to their homes.
The Trump campaign itself acknowledges the risk in a waiver attendees must agree to absolving the campaign of any responsibility should people get sick.
Even prior to the protests and planned rallies, health officials had already been warning about a likely new wave of coronavirus in the fall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still recommending that individuals wash their hands frequently, stay six feet apart from others and cover their face and mouth with a mask or cloth covering.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.