More than 800,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19, according to data from John Hopkins University released on Tuesday.
The “tragic milestone”, as President Joe Biden called it in a statement, makes the US death toll the highest in the world. Of the 5.3 million known COVID-19 deaths, the US now accounts for 15 percent, despite making up just 4 percent of the world’s population.
The true number of deaths is likely to be even higher because of cases that were unconfirmed or concealed. It is predicted to rise to over 880,000 by March 2022, according to a forecasting model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
More than 25 percent – 200,000 – of the deaths came after vaccines became widely available in April this year. Since then, around 200 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – over 60 percent of the population. It might sound like a lot, but it’s not enough.
“Almost all the people dying are now dying preventable deaths,” Dr Chris Beyrer, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the Guardian.
“And that’s because they’re not immunized.”
Biden reiterated these sentiments. In light of the vast majority of deaths being in the unvaccinated, he urged those who haven’t yet to get a shot.
"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," he said.
"Now is the time."