The head of the World Health Organization said Friday that more COVID-19 cases had been reported worldwide in the past four weeks than in the first six months of the pandemic.
In his regular news briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said hospitals and intensive care units were filling up or full across Europe and the United States.
More than 57 million cases have been confirmed worldwide since the start of the global pandemic and more than 1.3 million people have died, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
More records were crossed Friday with Europe surpassing 15 million total confirmed infections, India recording more than 9 million total cases and Mexico reporting 100,000 total deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Mexico was the fourth country to reach that marker after the United States, Brazil and India, according to Johns Hopkins.
The United States continued to top the list of countries with the most COVID-19 infections, with 11.7 million, according to Johns Hopkins.
The United States is now averaging more than 1,300 COVID-19 deaths per day — the highest since the virus spread through New York City in the spring.
U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, said Friday that they had filed for emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to use their COVID-19 vaccine, saying they were poised to begin distribution within hours of the authorization.
The application came after the companies said testing showed the vaccine has an effectiveness rate of 95%, with no serious safety concerns observed to date.
U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar said Friday that the FDA could make a decision about emergency use for the vaccine candidate within weeks.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that the country’s hospital system could be overwhelmed as modeling showed new coronavirus cases could quadruple from current levels by year's end. He urged people to stay home as much as possible as the holiday season ramps up.
"A normal Christmas is quite frankly right out of the question," he said.
Russia reported a record number of new coronavirus cases Friday – 24,318. More than 6,000 of the cases were in Moscow.
In France, the number of new coronavirus infections rose by 22,882 on Friday, slightly higher than the day before. Hospital numbers, however, eased for the fourth day in a row.
The Greek health ministry said the COVID-19 surge in the northern region of the country had forced the ministry “to take over two private clinics and their staff,” according to an Associated Press report.
The ministry said it had asked the private medical centers to open their facilities to the COVID-19 patient caseloads overwhelming public hospitals, but the medical centers and the government failed to come to an agreement.
The ministry appropriated the two clinics in Thessaloniki on Friday.