New York(ANN)-Coronavirus cases exceed 1 million globally, deaths over 51K, the latest updates on the spread of the new coronavirus pandemic around the world show report that the number of confirmed cases of the infection has exceeded one million.

Ac coding the Figures provided online by Johns Hopkins University on Thursday said that more than 51,000 people had died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, while 208,000 had recovered.

The figures showed that Italy topped the list of countries with the highest number of deaths from the virus while the United States had the highest number of confirmed cases.

More than three months have passed since the new coronavirus was detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan where tens of thousands were infected before the disease was mostly contained last month. Wuhan and surrounding regions are now set for a reopening of schools and businesses in the upcoming days.

However, many countries around the world have yet to see the worst of COVID-19 with the World Health Organization saying on Wednesday that the number of confirmed cases had doubled in less than a week.

However, reports on Thursday suggested that scientists and researchers were making progress in the initial stages of developing vaccines for COVID-19 as efforts are underway to immunize a substantial portion of the global population from the virus and allow a return to normal life in many countries.

Australia’s national science agency said that a first stage of testing a potential vaccine had begun on animals in a lab near Melbourne.

A US biotechnology company, whose efforts for developing a vaccine enjoys the support of the federal government in Washington, also said that it would carry out the first phase of testing the vaccine on humans in late spring or early summer.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh also said on Thursday that they had made promising progress on finding a protein that could induce immunity against the new coronavirus.

They said that their prototype vaccine, called PittCoVacc, had caused a surge of antibodies against the new coronavirus two weeks after it was tested in mice.

However, the researchers said the animal should be tracked for a longer period for the vaccine to prove immune and effective.

All governments and institutions around the world have declared that it would take between 12 to 18 months before a vaccine with a decisive ability to induce immunity against COVID-19 could be accessible to the public.