US passes 800,000 Covid-19 deaths despite availability of vaccines

The US death toll from Covid-19 topped 800,000 on Tuesday, a figure seen as doubly tragic given more than 200,000 of those lives were lost after the vaccine became widely available last year.

The number of deaths, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Atlanta and St Louis combined, or Minneapolis and Cleveland put together. It is also roughly equivalent to how many Americans die each year from heart disease or stroke.

The United States has the highest reported toll of any country. It accounts for approximately 4% of the world’s population but about 15% of the 5.3 million known deaths from coronavirus since the outbreak began in China two years ago.

The true death toll in the US and around the world is believed to be significantly higher because of cases that were overlooked or concealed.

A closely watched forecasting model from the University of Washington projects a total of over 880,000 reported deaths in the US by March 1.

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday noted what he called a “tragic milestone”.

He again called on unvaccinated Americans to get shots for themselves and their children, and urged the vaccinated to get booster shots.

“I urge all Americans: Do your patriotic duty to keep our country safe, to protect yourself and those around you, and to honor the memory of all those we have lost,” Mr Biden said. “Now is the time.”

About 200 million Americans are fully vaccinated, or just over 60% of the population – well short of what scientists say is needed to control the virus.

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