The UK’s COVID-19 death toll has surpassed 50,000 making it the first country in Europe to pass 50,000 deaths.
The tragic milestone was passed on Wednesday as the government announced that 595 people had died within 28 days of testing positive, bringing the total by this measure to 50,365.
This makes the UK the fifth country in the world to pass 50,000 deaths after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.
The official figures released by the Government showed 1,256,725 people have tested positive for the virus after 22,950 new cases were recorded.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson who warned of more tragic losses had last week ordered England back into a month-long national lockdown amid concerns that a second wave of infections could overwhelm the National Health Service.
“We’re not out of the woods yet. Every death is a tragedy, we mourn everybody who’s gone and our feelings are with their families and friends.”
“It is a global pandemic whose effects, whose treatments, whose implications for the economy, all those have been becoming clearer as the months have gone on,” he said.
But scientists remain hopeful about the prospect of a vaccine following news of progress in Pfizer’s potential Covid-19 treatment.
Pfizer and BioNTech had announced on Monday that a vaccine candidate showed 90% effectiveness in its preliminary stages.
The announcement comes as researchers around the world scrambled to deliver a safe and effective vaccine to help bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 1.2 million lives worldwide.
World statistics show that there have been 1,286,322 deaths worldwide and 52,232,051 confirmed cases as at 11th of November.
The vaccine which is expected to be available in limited use by late December and widely available by the third quarter of 2021 was based on the first interim efficacy analysis conducted by an external and independent Data Monitoring Committee from the phase three clinical study.
The analysis evaluated 94 confirmed Covid-19 infections among the trial’s 43,538 participants. Pfizer and the U.S. pharmaceutical giant’s German biotech partner said the case split between vaccinated individuals and those who received a placebo indicated a vaccine efficacy rate of above 90% at seven days after the second dose.
It means that protection from Covid-19 is achieved 28 days after the initial vaccination, which consists of a two-dose schedule. The final vaccine efficacy percentage may vary, however, as safety and additional data continue to be collected.