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US Covid death toll passes 900,000 as experts fear 1 million fatalities by April

The US death toll from the coronavirus pandemic crossed the 900,000 mark on Friday, adding another 100,000 in just a few weeks, as the country with the highest Covid deaths continues to see a heavy tally of infections driven by the Omicron variant.

Despite the highly-infectious variant loosening its grip on the country in recent weeks, daily cases stand at an average of over 350,000 while deaths continue to average 2,400.

The two-year total, starting from the first onset of Covid cases in the country in 2020, is greater than the population of Indianapolis, San Francisco, or Charlotte, North Carolina, according to Johns Hopkins University which compiled the official figures.

The latest tally stands as the highest number of Covid-19 deaths reported by any nation, followed by Russia, Brazil and India with more than 1.8 million deaths combined. In terms of coronavirus fatalities per capita, the United States ranks 20th, well below the top two – Peru and Russia, according to Reuters.

The grim milestone comes less than two months after the US surpassed 800,000 deaths in December 2021.

“It is an astronomically high number. If you had told most Americans two years ago as this pandemic was getting going that 900,000 Americans would die over the next few years, I think most people would not have believed it,” said Dr Ashish K Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

The US began its vaccination drive 13 months ago and 64 per cent of its population is fully vaccinated. However, experts say, the majority of deaths have been among the unvaccinated as the drive continues to be embroiled in a political tug of war.

“We got the medical science right. We failed on the social science. We failed on how to help people get vaccinated, to combat disinformation, to not politicise this,” Dr Jha said. “Those are the places where we have failed as America.”

New cases per day have plunged by almost half since mid-January when they hit a record-shattering peak of more than 800,000. Cases have been declining in 49 out of 50 states in the last two weeks, by Johns Hopkins’ count, and the 50th state, Maine, reported that confirmed infections were falling there, too, dropping sharply over the past week.

However, the current trajectory is enough to take the country towards 1 million deaths. According to Dr Jha, the US could add another 100,000 deaths by 1 April. He warned that the Covid-19 pandemic still isn’t over for the United States.

Additional reporting by agencies

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