The world added another million confirmed coronavirus cases to reach 12 million Wednesday — and it only took five days.
That’s the quickest climb for a million new cases since the beginning of the worldwide pandemic, which has now entered its seventh month with no end in sight.
While earlier this year it would take over a week for cases to climb by a million, that pace has been accelerating recently. The World Health Organization has reported record daily case counts worldwide multiple times through June and into this month.
According to public health data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, 12,007,327 infections were confirmed as of Wednesday evening. The death toll is also closing in on 550,000, having reached the half-million mark on June 28.
Wednesday also saw the most-infected country in the world, the United States, reach three million confirmed cases. That milestone was also reached at a faster rate than before, taking only 28 days to climb from two million. By contrast, 43 days separate the one-million and two-million marks.
The quickening pace in the U.S. has come thanks to several states experiencing new outbreaks after pushing to reopen their economies from weeks of shutdowns to limit the spread of the virus. Health officials there have pointed to loosening restrictions on gatherings and physical distancing as key reasons behind those surges.
Yet the U.S. is not the only country contributing to the worldwide acceleration in cases, as Latin American countries such as Brazil and Mexico continue to see spikes, along with nations in South Asia like India.
South Africa is now in the midst of its own surge, having climbed past 200,000 infections this week.
Experts predict the actual number of cases worldwide could be 10 times the official count, due to a lack of testing capacity in the early weeks of the pandemic.