The number infected with COVID-19, the condition caused by the novel coronavirus, was approaching a half-million people Thursday.

More than 22,000 have died across six continents. The World Health Organization has estimated the death rate from COVID-19 is about 3.4%, making it more fatal than the common flu.

The hunt for medical supplies consumed the U.S. and Europe on Monday. A shortage of ventilators, crucial for treating serious COVID-19 cases, has become critical as has a lack of test kits to comply with the World Health Organization's exhortations to test as many people as possible.

surge in infections has caused a critical shortage of medical supplies in many places. Italy has already seen 18 doctors with coronavirus die. A senior Spanish health official called the infection of 3,910 health care workers, roughly 12% of the country's total cases, “very bad news.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel noted at a news conference in Berlin: “You have to understand that if the virus is there, and the population has no immunity yet to this virus, there are no vaccines and no therapy so far, a high percentage — experts say 60 to 70% — of the population will be infected."

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Note: Totals may reflect outdated reporting.

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