The global death toll from the coronavirus has topped 3 million people amid repeated setbacks in the worldwide vaccination campaign and a deepening crisis in places such as Brazil, India and France.
The number of lives lost, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela or metropolitan Lisbon, Portugal.
And the true number is believed to be significantly higher because of possible government concealment and the many cases overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak that was first detected in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019.
When the world back in January passed the bleak threshold of 2 million deaths, immunisation drives had just started across Europe and in the United States.
They are now underway in more than 190 countries although progress in bringing the virus under control varies widely.
While the campaigns in the US and UK have hit their stride and people and businesses there are beginning to contemplate life after the pandemic, other places, mostly poorer countries but some rich ones as well, are lagging behind in putting shots in arms and have imposed new lockdowns and other restrictions as virus cases soar.
Deaths are on the rise again across the world - running at about 12,000 per day on average - and new cases are climbing too, eclipsing 700,000 a day.
"This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, where we have proven control measures," Maria Van Kerkhove of the WHO said.
In Brazil, where deaths are running at about 3000 per day, accounting for one-quarter of the lives lost worldwide in recent weeks, the crisis has been likened to a "raging inferno" by one WHO official.
A more contagious variant of the virus has been rampaging across the country.
As cases surge, hospitals are running out of critical sedatives.
As a result, there have been reports of some doctors diluting what supplies remain and even tying patients to their beds while breathing tubes are pushed down their throats.
This situation is similarly dire in India, where cases spiked in February after weeks of steady decline, taking authorities by surprise.
In a surge driven by variants of the virus, India registered more than 180,000 new infections in one 24-hour span during the past week.
Problems that India had overcome last year are coming back to haunt health officials.
Only 178 ventilators were free on Wednesday afternoon in New Delhi, a city of 29 million, where 13,000 new infections were reported the previous day.
The challenges facing India reverberate beyond its borders since the country is the biggest supplier of shots to COVAX, the UN-sponsored program to distribute vaccines to poorer parts of the world.
Last month, India said it would suspend vaccine exports until the virus' spread inside the country slows.
In Europe, countries are feeling the brunt of a more contagious variant that first ravaged the UK and has pushed the continent's COVID-19-related death toll beyond 1 million.
Close to 6000 gravely ill patients are being treated in French critical care units, numbers not seen since the first wave a year ago.
Dr Marc Leone, head of intensive care at the North Hospital in Marseille, said exhausted front-line staff members who were feted as heroes at the start of the pandemic now feel alone and are clinging to hope that renewed school closings and other restrictions will help curb the virus in the coming weeks.