The world hits another grim milestone amid concern over new coronavirus variants and vaccine supply chains.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has passed 100 million, according to Johns Hopkins University data, as countries work to secure vaccines to try to get the surging pandemic under control.
The shocking milestone was reached on Tuesday just over a year after the first case was reported in Wuhan, China.
Despite developments in treatments for COVID-19 and the roll-out of vaccines across dozens of countries, mutant strains of the virus recently detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil have created uncertainty about when the pandemic is likely to end.
The United States has recorded the most cases of any country to date at more than 25.3 million – around one quarter of the global total. With over 424,000 deaths recorded, the US also has the highest death toll in the world.
India has confirmed the second-highest total number of cases, with more than 10.6 million infections reported. More than 153,000 people have died from the virus there.
Brazil has confirmed more than 8.8 million cases and has the second-highest death toll, with 217,000 fatalities.
More than 2.1 million people have died from COVID-19 globally, and more than 55 million people have recovered from the disease.
The discovery of new variants of the virus has caused governments around the world to impose fresh restrictions, including travel bans, school closures and lockdowns as they seek to contain the spread.
US pharmaceutical company Moderna said it believes its COVID-19 vaccine is effective against the new variants, although it will test a new booster shot aimed at the strain discovered in South Africa after tests showed the antibody response could be reduced.
The vaccine developed by American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech works against 15 possible virus mutations. However, E484K, another mutation in South Africa, is not among those tested, according to a study released on January 7.
US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci said earlier this month that vaccines are designed to recognise multiple parts of the spike protein, which makes it unlikely a single mutation could be enough to prevent them from being effective.
However, he warned on Thursday that current vaccines may not be as effective in protecting against the new and more contagious strains.
Concerns are also mounting in Europe over delayed shipments of COVID-19 vaccines, with governments saying the supply issues were costing critical time during the early stages of the roll-out to care homes and hospital personnel.
The European Union on Tuesday warned pharmaceutical giants that have developed coronavirus vaccines with EU aid that it must get its shots on schedule, a day after the bloc threatened to impose export controls on vaccines produced within its borders.