New COVID-19 infections worldwide have increased for the eighth week running, with a record 5.2 million cases reported last week and an alarming growth rate in young people, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday.
Deaths also rose for the fifth straight week, pushing the global death toll to over three million, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing.
The pandemic has been gathering pace recently, according to WHO's numbers. "It took nine months to reach one million deaths; four months to reach two million, and three months to reach three million," the WHO chief said.
Meanwhile, infections and hospitalizations among people aged 25 to 59 are increasing at an alarming rate, he said, possibly as a result of highly transmissible variants and increased social mixing among younger adults.
To cope with the urgent need for COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, the WHO issued an expression of interest on Friday for establishing a COVID-19 technology transfer hub for mRNA vaccines, in hopes of increasing production of those vaccines in low- and middle-income countries.
Tedros called for the original manufacturers of mRNA vaccines to contribute their technology and know-how to a central hub, and for manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries to express interest in receiving that technology.
"We have seen incredible innovation in science; now we need innovation to ensure as many people as possible benefit from that science," he said.