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World Health Organization estimates that 10% of the world’s population has been infected by the coronavirus

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (center), director general of the World Health Organization, along with Michael Ryan (left), executive executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies program, and Maria van Kerkhove (right), technical lead of WHO's Health Emergencies program.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (center), director general of the World Health Organization, along with Michael Ryan (left), executive executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies program, and Maria van Kerkhove (right), technical lead of WHO's Health Emergencies program.Salvatore Di Nolfi/Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) — The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization says its “best estimates” indicate that roughly 1 in 10 people worldwide may have been infected by the coronavirus.

Dr. Michael Ryan, speaking Monday to a meeting of the WHO’s 34-member executive board focusing on COVID-19, said the figures vary from urban to rural, and between different groups, but that ultimately it means “the vast majority of the world remains at risk.”

The estimate — which would amount to more than 760 million people based on current world population of about 7.6 billion — far outstrips the number of confirmed cases as tallied by both WHO and Johns Hopkins University, now more than 35 million worldwide.

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Experts have long said that the number of confirmed cases greatly underestimates the true figure.