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COVID memorial near the Washington Monument. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The global toll of confirmed deaths from the coronavirus surpassed 5 million on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Why it matters: The first known death from COVID-19 was announced on Jan. 11, 2020, in Wuhan, China, where the pandemic began. Nearly two years later, the U.S. tops the globe with 745,836 deaths. Brazil follows with 607,824.

  • The actual number of deaths is believed to be higher due to possible data concealment and cases that were overlooked in 2019.

Between the lines: While billions of COVID vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, disparities in global vaccine rollout persist, with low-income countries lagging far behind wealthier ones.

  • Just under 6% of Africa's population are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Almost 250 million COVID cases have been reported worldwide, John Hopkins University data shows.

What to watch: Eye-catching memorials — honoring individual victims with flags, hearts, ribbons, rocks, quilt panels and other simple objects — have sprouted from London to L.A., Indonesia to Argentina, AP reports.

What they're saying: "With almost 50,000 deaths a week, the pandemic is far from over — and that’s just the reported deaths," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the World Health Summit.

Go deeper

17 hours ago - Health

WHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The World Health Organization called on countries Sunday not to impose travel bans on southern African nations amid concerns over the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The U.S. and countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific announced travel restrictions in response to Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. It's since been identified in several European countries, Canada, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong. The WHO noted in a statement that only two southern African nations have detected the new strain.

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: Iran preparing to enrich weapons-grade uranium, Israel warns U.S.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference. Photo: Presidency of Iran handout via Getty

Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the U.S. and several European allies suggesting that Iran is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90% purity — the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon, two U.S. sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: Enriching to 90% would bring Iran closer than ever to the nuclear threshold. The Israeli warnings come as nuclear talks resume in Vienna, with Iran returning to the negotiating table on Monday after a five-month hiatus.

Biden: Fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Monday said that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Driving the news: Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how "we're going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."